Young teams collided Saturday when the Nikiski volleyball team faced the Kodiak Bears in the Nikiski gymnasium. Kodiak walked away with a victory, winning three straight games 15-11, 15-2, 15-7.
The Bulldogs were left slightly worn, however, but a little wiser after assessing the day's lessons.
"Our primary goal next week is to improve our transition speed," said Nikiski coach Bruce King of how his team could get better. "Every team we play is bigger, so it's going to take defense."
He said this after coming off of a sweep in Seward Friday, where the Bulldogs lost 15-0, 15-0, 15-7.
King's smaller, younger Nikiski netters took the floor with two freshmen and two sophomores against a Kodiak starting roster with only three returning players and a bevy of underclassmen, and the teams looked almost even going into the first game.
The score volleyed back and forth between the two teams in the first game, with Nikiski taking the lead midway through at 9-8. But on a block from Kodiak's Molly Cassidy, starting Nikiski netter Liz Golia took a bad spill, straining her knee. After Golia was helped off the floor, the tide turned and the Bulldogs weren't able to recover.
"Yes, it affected them," King said of his team. "These girls are very close."
The Bears tied the game on that fateful block and proceeded past Nikiski for their first win.
"After Liz got hurt, we got kind of down," said Nikiski sophomore starter Krystal Gladden.
Gladden, who netted two of her six blocks in the first game, went without in the second game as the Bulldogs could only put together four serving plays for two points and a second loss.
In the third game, King's team found themselves behind again. But Nikiski displayed some never-say-die gusto on the last three Kodiak serves, extending a 13-7 serve for nearly 40 touches before the Bears could earn their 14th point.
"We got better," Gladden said. "We were really feeling great about playing together and we wanted to keep playing."
In the end, however, Kodiak was able to put the Bulldogs to bed with two of Cassidy's seven kills on the day.
Kodiak coach Nancie Kenney said she was glad to close out the three-day Kenai Peninsula swing with a positive note after losing contests in Homer Thursday and at Skyview Friday.
"It was nice to end the weekend on a win," she said. "We were just flat yesterday. But we're getting better every time we go on the floor."
King said based upon what he saw Saturday, he felt his team didn't have to worry too much about the future. Gladden agreed that the Bulldogs could only get better.
"We have the whole year ahead of us."
SKYVIEW 3, KODIAK 0
The Skyview Panthers defeated the Kodiak Bears Friday at Skyview 15-2, 15-6, 15-11.
Skyview was led by Laurel Creel and Nynke Salverda. Creel had nine kills and 17 points, and Salverda had 13 kills and 8 blocks.
Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said Salverda is improving in her grasp of the game in prep competition.
"She was a force at the net," Kupferschmid said of the 6-foot-2-inch junior. "She's just starting to learn the game. Yes, she's played in club ball, but high school play is different. I think that kid's gonna continue to get better."
The coach also applauded Creel's performance Friday night.
"Creel was very effective on the back line," she said of the junior's scoring.
Other top performers from the game include Jenny Carpenter, who had 11 kills, Christina Colvin with 27 assists and 8 points, and Anna Bonebreak, with two block kills and two kills.
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