The Kenai Central High School volleyball team got the opportunity to find out just what it's made of Friday night, taking the visiting Kodiak Bears to a fifth game before falling in a Region III/4A match at Kenai.
The Kardinals finished their weekend up with a nonregion match against Chugiak Saturday, which they lost in three games.
"I like Kodiak's team," said Kenai coach Jason Diorec after Friday's match. "It's a team I think we can hang with. It's probably the biggest team we've gone up against so far, and the girls did well.
"As a team, we're going to accept a loss just as well as a win we learn every time we step on the court."
Indeed, the Kardinals played the Bears tough. Kenai took the first game 25-21 as Sam Calderwood broke a 21-all tie with a kill, and Kaitlin Walker hit three booming jump serves to close out the game.
Kenai took a nine-point lead, 14-5, in the second game as Jamie Peterson put together a five-point run from the service line, but the Bears battled back, tying the game at 20 on the way to a 25-22 win the level the match.
The Bears maintained an advantage through the third game, winning 25-18 and forcing Kenai to dig deep and regroup for game four.
Kenai came from behind twice during the game. The Kardinals tied the game at 22 during a five-point run from the service line by Peterson, during which Peterson mixed in a pair of aces with two big blocks from middle hitter Amber McGlasson.
Peterson served the Kards to game point, 24-22, before the Bears won back the serve, but Kenai's Emily Kocinsky came up with a kill to win the game 25-23 and knot the match at two games apiece.
The fifth game, played to 15 points, was close in the early going, but Kodiak was able to pull away in the end with five straight service points from Kelsey Neussl and some impressive play at the net by Molly Cassidy and Iris McGuire. The Bears won the game 15-8 to take the match.
"I think Kenai played some pretty awesome ball," said Kodiak coach Nancie Kenney. "A five-game match definitely challenges you. Can you keep up the intensity for five games?
"And with rally scoring, not only is it the team that makes the least mistakes, but it's also the team that applies the most pressure. Both teams did that."
Diorec said he was pleased to see some of his less experienced players step in and make contributions. Kendra Steiner did well setting in the first game while Rochelle Stretch also rose to the occasion.
In Saturday's match, Chugiak won the first game 25-8. The Kardinals mounted a challenge in game two, losing 25-19, and took the Mustangs to extra points before losing the third game 27-25.
Kenai is now 4-2 overall and is next in action at home against Seward Friday.
Chugiak 3, Soldotna 1 Kodiak 3, Soldotna 0
Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said the Stars played well in a pair of losses.
Friday, the Stars lost in four games to the visiting Chugiak Mustangs in a nonregion match. Chugiak took the first two games, 25-15, 25-22, before the Stars were able to get on the board with a 25-16 win in the third game.
Chugiak closed out the match with a 25-18 win in game four, though.
"It was the best the girls have played together," Whannell said. "We fell short, but we really played well."
Jacquelyn Cowan and Stacey Foster each netted three service aces for the Stars while Heather Roach led the team with seven kills.
Saturday, Kodiak defeated the Stars 25-14, 26-24, 25-16 in a Region III/4A match.
Foster had five service aces for the Stars while Kala Fowler and Taryn Moeglein notched three kills.
The Stars are 1-2 in Region play and will host Nikiski in a nonregion match Tuesday.
Homer 3, Skyview 0
The Mariners dealt the Panthers a Region III/4A loss Friday in Homer.
Homer took the first game 25-21, won the second game 25-22 and closed out the match with a 25-21 win in the third game.
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