The Kenai Central High School volleyball teamed rolled past Seward Friday, defeating the visiting Seahawks in three games in a nonconference match at Kenai.
On Saturday, the Kardinals visited Homer for a Northern Lights Conference tilt and came home with a four-game victory over the Mariners.
The Kardinals cruised through the first two games Friday, winning 25-10 and 25-9 as the Seahawks could not handle the Kenai serving game. Seward was able to dig some balls and make some plays in the third game and led by a point late in the game, but a quick-set kill from Amber McGlasson gave the Kardinals a 23-22 lead, and Kendra Steiner hit two more powerful serves, finishing with an ace, to give Kenai a 25-22 win and the match.
"I think they just found out in that third game that they're the ones that have to bring the magic," said Seward coach Laura Beck. Beck said her squad was mostly juniors and seniors, but those players had been backing up some very strong upperclassmen and need to get some experience.
The Kardinals, on the other hand, are a very experienced team, with the roster that carried the squad to the state tournament last season almost entirely intact.
Kenai coach Jason Diorec said his squad used the match to work on their offense. Both teams played using a libero, a defensive specialist who can be inserted into the game in the back row at any time but can't serve and is limited in her attacking role. Kelsey Brewer filled that role for the Kardinals while Haley Hatch played it for the Seahawks in the second and third games.
"We're reintroducing our offense and defense. That's what we were practicing. For the most part, it's working," Diorec said.
Several Kardinals got some extra practice over the summer as they attended the David Rubio elite camp in Tucson, Ariz. Diorec said seven players made the trip south, braving 100-degree temperatures for the experience.
"They learned a lot. They got to play on the same court as his top players," Diorec said, pointing out that the top players there were national team-caliber athletes.
"It was a great experience. It was so much fun, building our team and also being on the court with some huge girls," said Kenai's Jamie Peterson. "Just the diversity of the teams there (was amazing), and the coaching staff there were about 50 different coaches."
Peterson said she noticed a difference as the Kardinals began practice for the high school season last month.
"The first week of practice, we came out and you could tell the girls that had played down there and had played together," Peterson said.
"The girls had a great time and learned a lot they even learned how to appreciate Alaska weather," Diorec said.
Diorec said the trip was made possible by the team's booster group, which put together fund-raisers to cover the cost of the trip. Diorec said he'd like to be able to send the team to another camp next next summer as well.
Kenai 4, Homer 1
Kenai won the first game 25-10. Homer came back to even the match with a 25-14 win in the second game, but the Kardinals rattled off two straight wins, 25-17 in the third game and 26-24 in the fourth game, to seal the match.
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