The Nikiski High School volleyball team overcame the loss of one of its top hitters, defeating Skyview in four games in a nonconfernce match Tuesday at Nikiski.
"I think we put together a pretty good lineup, it's just that it's almost like the beginning of the season with a little uncertainty about who is doing what," said Nikiski coach Bruce King about his team playing without Georgie Heaverley, who is out with a sprained ankle suffered during the West Spiketacular tournament last weekend.
"It will take a little time until it runs smooth."
The Bulldogs looked to be running smoothly against the Panthers. After splitting the first two games of the match Nikiski opened with a 25-20 win while Skyview clawed back to take game two 25-18 the Bulldogs got on a roll in the third game, building a 14-7 lead. The Panthers battled to the end, but Nikiski pulled out a 25-18 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Game four was a back and forth affair with six lead changes and 10 tie scores.
Skyview's Michelle Hicks provided five straight service points to give the Panthers a 15-11 lead before the Bulldogs came back, tying the game at 17 on a blistering serve by Amber Huhndorf.
Skyview led once more in the game as Anna Bonebrake notched a kill to tie it at 18 and Alex West came up with a block for a point and a 19-18 Skyview lead.
A pair of points gave the Bulldogs a 1-point lead, and after Skyview scored on a Nikiski miscue to tie the game at 20, Kyla Jorgensen pounded a kill off the Panthers blockers to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
The Panthers pulled back to within a point at 24-23, but Hannah Thompson smashed a kill off the fingertips of Skyview's blockers to end the match with a 25-23 Nikiski win.
"We had too many inconsistencies, but everybody can say that," said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "We're getting better. We're a better team than when we played them in the first set. We're looking toward the future here."
Kupferschmid said she thought her team's serve-receive improved during the game as her players had to handle some blistering Bulldogs serves.
"Overall, I thought we passed the ball pretty well. Melissa Fay had an excellent setting game. She's our general, she's going to lead us," Kupferschmid said.
Bonebrake finished with 14 kills and a pair of blocks for the Panthers while Hicks finished with 23 points from the service line.
Amy Arestad had six kills, West finished with five kills and Jennifer Holland record four kills for the Panthers.
"We had some balance there," Kupferschmid said.
Kupferschmid also liked the play of junior defensive specialist Jordan Grant, who was solid on defense and from the service line.
King said serving was a strength for his team as well Nikiski amassed 17 aces and liked his team's play at the net, where Sherra Pritchard had six blocks and Flossie Jorgensen had five blocks.
"I think that made a difference. Any time we got a hand on one of Anna's swings, that was a plus for us," King said.
Pritchard said being aggressive was the key to winning the "jousts" at the net.
"We got up and hit the ball first. You've got to have the first touch when it's up in the air like that," Pritchard said.
Thompson led the Bulldogs with 10 kills to go with her 11 digs while Clare Bennett had 15 digs.
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