That'll leave a mark.
The Nikiski and Kenai Central volleyball teams went toe to toe Thursday night, and the Kardinals came out on top, taking a three games to one decision from the host Bulldogs in a nonconference match.
"We stayed together," said Kenai's Jamie Peterson. "If there's one thing our team is, we're fighters."
The Kardinals needed every bit of fight they had as the Bulldogs came out swinging. Nikiski won the first game 25-21, coming back from a six-point deficit. Hannah Thompson provided a boost from the service line, recording an ace during a six-point run that gave the Bulldogs a 19-16 lead.
Nikiski's front line of Krystal Gladden, Anjani Salonen and Racheal Gerke caused problems for Kenai hitters, and Gladden was able to serve for the game, getting a kill from teammate Georgie Heaverley, then letting the front row go to work for game point.
Kenai grabbed the momentum back for the second game, though, taking an early 6-1 lead and extending it for a 25-15 win.
Kenai's Katie Foley, Kendra Steiner and Hailey Wisnewski celebrate the match point Thursday at Nikiski.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"We put in a couple of faster players," said Kenai coach Jason Diorec of the Kardinals' change in tactics for the second game. "We went for defense, instead of a power game. We wanted to emphasize defense against Nikiski, because their defense is very good."
Kenai carried its momentum into the third game, where Peterson, who transferred from Nikiski to Kenai this season along with Samantha Calderwood, notched eight kills, then served an ace on game point to give the Kardinals a 25-11 win and a two games to one advantage.
"I had to win," Peterson said of facing her former team.
"I couldn't have done it without (Kenai setter Ali DeMello). When she was setting me, I was hitting, and I was hitting all the open spaces."
Nikiski battled back in the fourth game, though, recovering from a five-point deficit to tie the game at 19 before Kenai was able to win it in extra points, 28-26. In fact, the Bulldogs had a chance to send the match to a fifth game before Peterson notched a kill, then delivered another ace from the service line to tie the game at 24.
"We went into this game thinking they were going to have to pry it from our dead fingers to win," said Gladden. "I guess they did.
"We did tons of stuff well. It was our best game so far. We came together as a team."
Nikiski coach Bruce King said his team needs to be a little more consistent, but added that the match was a good one from which to learn.
"If we play with the same intensity that we played with at the end, we're going to be tough," King said.
The Bulldogs, now 3-3 overall, entertain District 3/3A foe Seward today at 5 p.m. Kenai, 4-0 overall, hosts Region III/4A opponent Kodiak today at 5 p.m. and will play a nonconference game against Chugiak Saturday at 11 a.m.
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