The Soldotna and Kenai Central volleyball teams came up short in their bids for a state berth this weekend at Wasilla High School.
The Stars never found the win column with losses to Palmer on Thursday and Kenai on Friday, while the Kardinals were cruelly dealt a blow Friday night in a second-chance bracket matchup.
Officially, Kenai lost in straight sets to Wasilla with scores of 25-12, 25-12 and 25-23, but a book-keeping error ended the third set, ending Kenai’s season on the spot.
According to coach Tracie Beck, the match was tied up at 24 apiece with Kenai serving, but the officials made the decision to award Wasilla the previous point, giving them the win, based on what they believed to be an error in Kenai’s court rotation.
Beck said the Kards protested for several minutes without any luck, and the match ended. Later, before the team emerged from the locker room, Beck said an official approached her and offered an apology upon realizing their mistake, but the damage was done.
“I don’t know, but surely we would’ve liked to have a shot,” Beck said if she thought it cost her team the win. “The seniors worked all these years to reach their goal, and they didn’t get a shot.”
Beck said Emily Koziczkowski was one senior that stepped up and shone brightly over the course of the weekend, and was rewarded with the Good Sport award.
Senior Abby Beck was given co-MVP honors, while senior outside Cierra King was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
Coach Beck was named co-Coach of the Year, alongside Wasilla’s Josie Cannon.
Kenai 3, Soldotna 2
After splitting their regular-season matchups, Kenai got the last laugh Friday with a tight five-set victory over SoHi, winning with scores of 25-22, 18-25, 19-25, 25-22 and 17-15.
“SoHi put up a great game, it was a fun atmosphere to play in,” coach Beck said. “The kids showed up to play.”
Beck said it took a full team effort to knock off SoHi, but added that middle hitters Cierra King and Emily Koziczkowski were especially effective up front. King finished with 13 kills and three service aces, while Koziczkowski had 10 kills.
“Cierra and Emily rocked it, they did awesome,” Beck said. “(Soldotna) put up a triple block, which left a lot of open space for tips. Our middles took advantage of that.”
Abby Beck staved off multiple SoHi hits with 22 digs, and added 11 kills as well, while Bethany Coghill poured in 29 assists to go along with four aces. Kenai sophomore Patricia Catacutan also came up with “one of her best games,” according to coach Beck, with 16 digs and two aces.
Soldotna coach Sheila Kupferschmid praised her team’s effort in the loss, noting that the Stars were dealt another injury blow when libero Shaylynn Zener went down with a hurt ankle for the second time this year. Emily Pieh took over after Zener’s exit.
“I know this, the girls played very tough, they were in every set, and at the end, those plays didn’t go our way,” Kupferschmid said. “We had our opportunities and did not capitalize.”
Freshman outside Ituau Tuisaula and senior Drewe Zeek were both named to the All-Conference First-Team list, while junior setter Cally Christianson was named to the Second-Team list. Senior setter Abi Tuttle received the Good Sport award.
Against Kenai, Christianson had 17 service points and Zener had 10. Both Zeek and junior Ella Stenga had 10 kills, while Tuisaula had nine kills and eight blocks. Kodi McGillivray had nine kills and Aliann Schmidt notched three blocks and two kills. Kupferschmid mentioned that senior Taylor Earll came up clutch for SoHi throughout the tournament, and that McGillivray stepped up to help the Stars.
All-Northern Lights Conference
Player of the Year: Eve Stephens, Colony; Abby Beck, Kenai
Coach of the Year: Josie Cannon, Wasilla; Tracie Beck, Kenai
Andraia Bella, Wasilla; Drewe Zeek, Soldotna; Kennedy Bryan, Palmer; Ryana Recustodio, Kodiak; Ituau Tuisaula, Soldotna; Lindsey Cizek, Wasilla; Shiann Bontrager, Colony; Tiana Lee, Palmer.
Erika Spencer, Palmer; Cally Christianson, Soldotna; Madi Ko, Palmer; Cierra King, Kenai; Mallory Bradford, Palmer; Federica Freschi, Wasilla; Mystery Showalter, Palmer; Mikara Klawitter, Colony.