Dimond had no problem keeping its edge Friday night in a nonconference volleyball match at Soldotna High School.
Intense from the beginning to the end, the Lynx gradually pulled away from a Stars squad that gradually lost its verve for the match.
The scores in the rally scoring match were 25-20, 25-14 and 25-11.
"The first game, I thought we played really well," Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said. "The second game, we started to fade.
"The third game, we walked out on the court and we were kind of just out there. There was a lack of communication and a lack of effort."
Dimond coach Bryan Stenehjem also thought his team's sustained concentration was key to the match.
He said in a victory earlier this week against Bartlett, the Lynx were going through the motions. Thursday, Stenehjem's team started to pick up more intensity in a win over West. Finally, Friday Dimond zoned in on the match in a level that was acceptable to its coach.
"It was a fast-paced match, and our kids kept up with that pace the entire match," Stenehjem said.
In the first game, Soldotna had the lead at 6-5 before Dimond had a run of eight straight points from which the Stars could never recover.
Dimond's Kate Compton served out seven of those eight points, and four of the points came on hitting errors from Soldotna. The Stars would not come within four points of Dimond the rest of the first game.
After that, Dimond's steady passing began to take more and more control of the match. And when the Stars were able to mount an attack, Dimond's back-row defensive crew of Melissa Grieve, Veronica Haney and Compton did a good job of scrambling to keep the ball alive.
"Soldotna had some great hits, and we were able to dig them up," Stenehjem said.
In the second game, the Stars were able to keep a Dimond server from serving more than once just one time.
The Stars did show some signs on life late in the match, when Stacey Foster served out four points to bring the score to 23-14, but by that time it was too late.
That set the stage for the last game, where the score was tied at 8, but Dimond outscored Soldotna 17-3 the rest of the way. There were seven times in the last game when Soldotna wasn't able to get the Dimond serve back over the net, including on six of the last 11 points.
"We have seniors that don't want to go out like this," Whannell said. "I told them I'm not giving up on them.
"We still have three or four weeks to get ready for regions."
Karlie Steiner-Bailey had 28 assists for Dimond, while Raven Nolan had nine kills and five blocks, Savannah Afoa had seven kills and four blocks and Cristal Negron had 25 digs and seven kills.
For Soldotna, Stacey Foster had 12 assists and one ace, Hillary Zobeck had two aces and four kills, Lauren Christensen had one ace, Megan Needs had three assists, Rachel Besse had six kills and one kill block, Ashley Duwe had three kills, Haley Smith had three kills and one kill block and Christa Martin had one kill block.
Lathrop 3, Soldotna 2
The Stars fell to 6-6 overall on the season with the 23-25, 25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 15-12 loss to the Malemutes in a rally scoring match.
Whannell said the Saturday nonconference loss was much more encouraging than Friday's loss to Dimond. She said Saturday was the best the team has played as a team since the beginning of the season.
Besse had 16 kills and five kill blocks, Zobeck had nine kills and four aces, Duwe had six kills, Jacqueline Cowan had five kills and two aces, Smith had two kills, Martin had two aces, Needs had one ace and Foster had one ace.
Homer 3, Lathrop 0
The host Mariners swept a nonconference rally scoring match Friday 25-19, 25-15 and 25-23.
Homer 3, Dimond 1
The host Mariners picked up a nonconference victory Saturday against the Lynx in a match that used rally scoring. The scores were 21-25, 25-16, 25-18 and 29-27.
Seward 3, Lathrop 0
The host Seahawks swept a nonconference match Thursday 15-5, 15-3 and 15-11.
The Grace Christian volleyball team defeated Skyview 15-13 and 15-8 Saturday to win the Grace Invitational.
Jenny Carpenter of Skyview was the most valuable player at the tournament. Laurel Creel and Christina Colvin also were all-tournament honorees for the Panthers.
Kenai was represented on the all-tournament team by Charity Christensen and Angelica Carreon.
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