The Nikiski High School volleyball team defeated Kenai Central in four games Tuesday in a nonconference match at Kenai.
"It's always tough against Kenai," said Nikiski coach Bruce King. "These girls know each other, and it's for bragging rights for the next year."
The Bulldogs will hang on to the bragging rights this time around as they improve to 13-0 this season. Nikiski took the first game 25-20, and after Kenai rallied to win the second game 25-23, Nikiski won game three 25-20.
Kenai had an early lead in the fourth game, but the Bulldogs came back to take the match with a 25-18 win.
"It was very intense," said Nikiski's Hannah Thompson. "... It does (feel good to win). It's Kenai, it's the big rivalry, and we still have our undefeated record going."
Thompson had a big night for the Bulldogs with 14 kills. Georgie Heaverley notched 11 kills for the Bulldogs, but the Kardinals played solid defense, meaning quite a few long rallies as Kenai came up with dig after dig.
"I think Kenai did an outstanding job on defense, digging us out," King said.
The Bulldogs were equally adept on defense, though, as Amber Huhndorf came up with 19 digs and Sasha Auldridge totaled 17.
"Eighty-five total digs that's a good night's work," King said of his team's effort.
Kenai trailed Nikiski by just three points in the first game, 15-12, when Heaverley won the serve back for the Bulldogs with a big hit, and Huhndorf rattled off five straight service points for a 21-12 lead.
A kill by Thompson pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 24-14, but Kenai staved off game point as Katie Foley shredded Nikiski's serve-receive for five straight points to cut the deficit to 24-20. Foley's sixth serve sailed just long, giving the Bulldogs the game, but Kenai kept that momentum going into the second game, taking a 3-0 lead on serves from Kendra Steiner.
The Bulldogs had tied the game at 16 when a kill by Jamie Peterson won the serve for the Kardinals, and Kenai took a 20-16 lead on three straight service points from Foley.
Nikiski tightened it up with a kill by Heaverley to end Foley's service run and a pair of big serves by Eirleen Lee. The Bulldogs eventually pulled to within a point of the Kardinals, 23-22, but Kenai's Amber McGlasson finally decided things with a kill.
The third game was a tight affair until the Bulldogs pulled out to a 22-16 lead on four straight service points from Heaverley she had won the serve for her side with a kill and had an ace during her service run to give Nikiski a 22-16 edge.
Kenai got a couple of points back but never got closer than four, and Krystal Gladden ended the game with a well-placed tip.
Kenai jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the fourth game but could not hold it. Nikiski took its first lead of the game, 18-16, on five straight service points from Lee Lee mixed in an ace, Heaverley had a kill and Thompson had a kill and a block during the run and the Bulldogs extended their lead to finish off the match.
Lee finished the match with four aces while Nikiski setter Stacey Griffel was credited with 21 assists.
"I think our passing was a lot better. We improved as it went on," Thompson said of the Bulldogs' success.
"It was a great tuneup for us for the Dimond-Service tournament this weekend," said King, adding the the competition there would be stiff the undefeated Bulldogs were seeded fourth in their pool.
The Kardinals return to Northern Lights Conference play Thursday when they will host the Skyview Panthers for a 5:30 p.m. match.
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