Nikiski's Georgie Heaverley spikes the ball to Seward at the end of the first of Thursday's three games.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Seward volleyball team is inexperienced this year. Thursday night in Nikiski, the Bulldogs wanted to give the Seahawks as little experience as possible.
Nikiski notched a 25-14, 25-12 and 25-19 victory over Seward in the Southcentral Conference opener for both clubs.
“Our goal was to put the pressure on them and to not let up mentally for all three games,” said Nikiski coach Bruce King, whose team is now 3-0 overall in head-to-head match play. “I think we made that happen.”
King said his squad did a particularly good job of putting the heat on the Seahawks with serves. Hannah Thompson had six aces, while Amber Huhndorf had five aces. In all, the Bulldogs had 15 aces.
“Even when we didn’t get aces, we had tough serves that were throwing their attack off,” King said.
The most striking example of a serve keeping Seward on its heels came from Thompson, who jump-served successfully throughout the match.
“Hannah has free reign with her jump-serve,” King said. “We have other players who can jump-serve, too, but Hannah is the most comfortable with it this early in the season.”
Nikiski’s attack, meanwhile, also was clicking. Thompson led the attack with 13 kills, while Georgie Heaverley added nine kills. Huhndorf and Sasha Auldridge led Nikiski defensively with six digs each.
Seward coach Laura Beck said her squad has a lot of juniors and seniors who did not get much varsity playing time in past years. She said it will take the team some time to learn what it takes to succeed in a varsity match.
Beck said it is possible to see the improvement in just one match.
“The third game is always our best game,” Beck said. “That’s when we always start to pick it up. If we could just start like we play in the third game, we’d be fine.”
In the first game, Huhndorf had an early run of 11 service points as the Bulldogs cruised to a 25-14 victory. In the second game, Huhndorf had eight straight service points in a 25-12 victory. In the third game, the Seahawks were able to keep the Bulldogs from any long service runs in losing 25-19.
“I expect them to be a tough defensive team by the end of the year,” King said of the Seahawks. “They always are tough on defense by the end of the year, and defense is what’s important in the conference tournament.”
Beck said senior Siri Gillespie and juniors Janessa Anderson and Lindsey VonBorstel all can set and are coming on as leaders of the team. Beck also said Haley Hatch is doing a good job as the libero, or defensive specialist, and that junior Katie Peck did a good job moving up and replacing another player out with injury.
King, meanwhile, is excited about the addition of Nikiski graduate Laura Berdahl to his coaching staff. Berdahl just completed her college career in volleyball.
King said she will help his squad understand what methods the other team is using to attack the Bulldogs.
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