Nikiski is a strong volleyball team -- and that's not just because the Bulldogs remained undefeated with a 25-16, 25-20 and 25-17 nonconference victory over visiting Skyview.
"It seemed like they were stronger physically than us and that makes a difference in volleyball," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said after her team fell to 1-4 overall. "They had more behind their serves and hits.
"I always tell my kids volleyball is similar to football -- it's a power game."
The Bulldogs used a balanced attack to break down the Panthers. Georgie Heaverley paced Nikiski with eight kills, many of the booming variety, while Hannah Thompson had six kills, Racheal Gerke had five kills and Krystal Gladden had four kills.
Quarterbacking the Bulldogs attack was Stacey Griffel, who had 23 assists.
"We ran a lot of different things and mixed it up," said Heaverley, who also had 13 digs. "With Stacey, that's always an option because she's so good at mixing it up."
Eirleen Lee and Amber Huhndorf also gave the Bulldogs some punch from the service line. Each cracked three aces.
Nikiski coach Bruce King, whose team improved to 6-0, said his team has been working on playing more consistently.
King said the Bulldogs played too erratic Tuesday. However, when crucial points in the game surfaced, Nikiski was able to ride their balanced attack to comfortable winning margins.
"I think our offense is starting to come around," King said. "We're distributing the ball to a lot of different people."
In the first game, Skyview trailed only 14-11 before Nikiski got the serve back on a kill by Sherra Pritchard and Thompson served for four points to give the Bulldogs a 19-11 cushion they would rest on for victory.
In the second game, the Panthers trailed 10-9 before Nikiski earned a side-out and Thompson served for eight points that would give the Bulldogs a 17-9 edge and another comfortable triumph.
King said Thompson, who led the Bulldogs with 17 digs, is starting to get in sync with her hitting after missing the first four matches of the year with a injury to her right (and hitting) shoulder.
In the third game, Lee put the Bulldogs up 7-2 with four service points. The Bulldogs would pretty much hold that lead for the rest of the game to pull off the sweep.
"We just need to see more reps, work hard, have a good attitude -- all the things that will bring a team together," Kupferschmid said. "I saw some good things out there tonight in stretches."
The coach liked the way Cady Bon (six kills) and Amber Kunz (four kills) hit the ball. Kupferschmid also credited Anna Bonebrake, who had three kills and four blocks, with a solid defensive game.
Kupferschmid said the team is looking better now that Melissa Fay is the primary setter. Before last weekend's Peninsula Challenge, Fay and Jennifer Holland had been setting for the team. The change allows Holland to focus on defense, one of her strengths.
"Melissa Fay is a young sophomore," Kupferschmid said. "She's such a good athlete. She's going to be a good one."
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