The Kenai Central high school volleyball team has finally found a hole in the Knights' armor.
The Kardinals came back from a two-game deficit Friday to notch the first victory over Colony in the program's history.
The Kardinals, who were playing on the road, dropped the first two games 15-6 and 15-4 before rallying for 15-5, 15-7 and 15-9 victories and a key Region III win.
"The hitters really stepped it up," Kenai Central coach Vanessa Gabel said. "In the first couple of losses, our passing was really good, but we were hitting either just over the net and in, or making an error.
"We weren't putting the ball away. I told the hitters they needed to start putting the ball down. They walked on the court and started putting it down."
Over the last three games, middle hitters Erica Shinn and Angelica Carreon and outside hitters Laura Rhyner and Charity Christensen dominated with what Gabel called smart and strong hitting. She also said Shinn had a few blocks that changed the momentum of the match.
Amy Fischer finished up with 36 assists in the match, while Shamra Bauder had four aces and 12 digs. Also for Kenai, Shinn had eight aces, five blocks and 13 kills, and Rhyner piled up 10 kills and 13 digs.
"The girls were so excited about beating Colony," Gabel said. "It was a huge mental hurdle for them to get over.
"They know the season ahead will be a strong one for them."
Saturday, the Kardinals lost to Palmer 15-5, 15-6 and 16-14. The defeat left Kenai at 2-1 overall and 1-1 in Region III.
"Unfortunately, for the first couple of games against Palmer our passing disappeared," Gabel said.
Christensen had 10 kills in the match, while Fischer had 15 assists and five kills, Rhyner had six digs and four aces, Morris had three aces and Carreon had two blocks.
Kenai will host Skyview at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Skyview 3, Kodiak 1
Kodiak 3, Skyview 2
The Panthers defeated the host Bears Friday in a Region III contest before falling to Kodiak Saturday in a nonregion match.
Friday, Skyview used a balanced attack on offense to chalk up a 15-8, 15-7, 11-15 and 15-8 victory.
Jenny Carpenter had 13 kills for the Panthers, while Angel Hollers had nine kills, Stacia Pfaffe had eight kills, Christine Hayes had seven kills and Laura Tarbox had five kills.
Pfaffe also added four solo blocks and six assisted blocks, while Tarbox pitched in with four solo blocks and five assisted blocks.
"I was very pleased with the way my kids played for the second match of the season," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. "I felt we kind of beat Kodiak in all areas of the game in that first match."
Kodiak came back to defeat Skyview 17-15, 11-15, 15-12, 12-15 and 15-10 Saturday. The Panthers were down 10-3 in the fourth game, but came back to force a fifth game.
Hollers was sick for the match, and Hayes injured her right arm and couldn't play in the fifth game Saturday.
"That gave me an opportunity to put in some young sophomores," Kupferschmid said. "It was a good experience for them to be in a pressure situation."
The coach is hoping Hayes will be available Thursday, when the Panthers travel to Kenai for a key Region III match. Game time is at 5:30 p.m.
The Nikiski volleyball team finished third at the East Invitational Friday and Saturday in Anchorage.
Friday, the Bulldogs were in pool play with Service, Chugiak, Bartlett and Houston. Nikiski finished third in that pool.
Saturday, the Bulldogs opened with a 15-5, 8-15 and 15-6 loss to Dimond. However, Nikiski came back to beat West 15-1 and 15-5, and Bartlett 15-3 and 15-4 to claim third.
"I was excited to win, but I wished that those schools would have shown us some respect by going out and playing as hard as they could," Nikiski coach Cherrie Hobart-Verkuilen said.
Senior Mindy Cason was named to the all-tournament team for the Bulldogs due to her play at the net and in the back row.
Hobart-Verkuilen also cited the leadership of April Lofstedt and the serving of Kassie Thomson, who served out the last eight points against Bartlett.
"The kids played well and definitely improved with each match," Hobart-Verkuilen said. "Our biggest problem is the lack of varsity experience, and that was evidenced in inconsistent play."
The coach said the Bulldogs got an extra treat when they were able to attend a University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball match.
"That was a lot of fun," Hobart-Verkuilen said. "After watching that game, maybe the kids thought doing something like that is not an impossible goal."
Nikiski will travel to play District 3/3A games at Susitna Valley Friday and Houston Saturday.
Palmer 3, Soldotna 0
Colony 3, Soldotna 1
After losing quickly at Palmer on Friday, the Stars came back to play much better Saturday against the Knights.
Friday, Soldotna lost 15-5, 15-6 and 15-3 to the Moose.
"Palmer really knew we had a couple of big blockers," Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said. "They were tipping and chipping at us, and our defense couldn't pick anything up. They were hitting all the holes."
Saturday, the Stars made some defensive adjustments in falling to the Knights 15-6, 15-9, 13-15 and 15-11.
"Obviously, the stats show the girls played a lot better defensively," Whannell said. "They were able to read and adjust a lot better."
The Stars had 14 team saves against the Knights. Jenna Pitts had 19 digs, and Whannell also said the defense got a spark from sophomore Jacquelyn Cowan.
Rachel Besse had 12 block kills and 10 kills, while Hillary Zobeck had 12 kills, Stacey Foster had 11 assists and Christa Martin had five assists.
The Stars, 0-2 in the region and 0-3 overall, will travel to face Seward today in a nonregion match.
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