Sheila Kupferschmid closed one chapter last November and opened another Tuesday night, coaching the Soldotna volleyball team to a win over Seward in the Stars’ nontournament season opener in the Soldotna High School gym.
SoHi swept the Seahawks in the nonconference match with scores of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-7.
“It was a good way to start this season,” Kupferschmid said. “It seemed like the kids started playing better as they progressed.”
Kupferschmid said she was very pleased with SoHi’s serving, which was certainly spot on with Skylar Shaw, Lindsey Wong, Hayley Ramsell and libero Alex Ashe. Wong saw her first action as a varsity setter.
“It was pretty evident that (Seward) couldn’t pick up our serves,” Kupferschmid said.
With their serving game down pat, the Stars were able to continue the offensive attack once the ball was in play with a powerful hitting game that received several doses of energy from senior Hayley Ramsell.
“I’ve done a lot of open gyms,” Ramsell said in reference to the offseason. “A lot of reps.”
Ramsell’s eight kills led the Stars, and the former Skyview athlete had two blocks as well. Skylar Shaw followed with seven kills, Makenna Rosin and Judah Aley had five kills each, and on defense, Alex Ashe provided 12 digs.
“We just need to communicate a little more, and I feel like once we get that down, no one can stop us,” Ramsell said. “We are a really good team as a whole because we all get along well.”
Of course, Ramsell’s hitting game Tuesday could be chalked up to her history with coach Kupferschmid, who has coached Ramsell for the past three years at Skyview.
“She’s a really good coach all around so she knows her stuff,” Ramsell said. “She knows how to merge our team together and that’s what she’s done.”
Seward coach Jaime Frederickson said Jessica Honebein had the best passing percentage for Seward and Maria Jackson recorded the most hits, but lamented on the fact that her team came up with zero kills, which only exacerbated their struggles against SoHi’s powerful hitting.
“We have not practiced yet really on digging hard serves,” Frederickson said. “They just had more varied hitters, so us and our one and a half blockers had a hard time reading them.”
Seward dropped to 1-4 overall in 2014.
SoHi got the evening started with five straight points in the first set, helped by deadly serves from Shaw. The Stars opened up a gap of 10-2, and held off a late Seward charge, which saw the Seahawks close in to within three points.
“I liked the first game because the kids had to fight them off,” Kupferschmid said. “That’s a good sign. They could’ve let up but they stayed strong.”
Seward opened the second set with momentum, as Michaela Osenga sent several serves out that resulted in an early 9-6 lead. But the lead was short-lived when Alex Ashe began taking SoHi’s serves. The Stars caught fire in a 15-1 point streak that ended with four straight serving points from Wong and a kill from Rosin.
In the third set, SoHi had point runs of five and seven to stake out a 14-4 lead and cruised from there to easily clinch the victory.
“We started talking a lot more, and once we got our heads down and our passes down, we could just swing,” Ramsell said of the team’s performance.
Soldotna will host Nikiski on Tuesday at 6 p.m., while Seward will get its next taste in competition at the Shayna Pritchard Memorial tournament on Friday and Saturday in Nikiski.