The Kenai Central High School volleyball team dropped a Region III/4A match to the visiting Wasilla Warriors in three games Friday.
The Kardinals were able to hang tough with the Warriors in the first two games, losing 25-23 in both of them. Wasilla, however, pulled away in the third game for a 25-16 win to close out the match.
Kenai regrouped Saturday to post a four-game win over the visiting Houston Hawks in a nonregion match.
Kenai coach Jason Diorec said the difference in Friday's match was consistency Wasilla had it, while the Kardinals did not.
"I'm pretty proud of the girls," Diorec said. "We can hang with the bigger teams.
"We're just not as consistent. Our fundamentals aren't as consistent. That's what we're going to be working on."
In the first game, Wasilla led by seven points, 19-12, before Kenai mounted a rally.
The Kardinals took advantage of a Wasilla hit that ended up in the net, and Kaitlin Walker connected for six straight service points, mixing in an ace with a pair of kills by Jamie Peterson, to draw Kenai even with the Warriors.
The teams stayed within a point for the rest of the game, and after Wasilla had worked itself to game point, 24-22, Kenai responded with a good scramble to regain the serve and win a point.
However, inconsistency foiled the Kardinals as Kenai's serve did not clear the net, giving the game to the Warriors.
The story was the same through game two as the teams battled back and forth Kenai led by as many as four and trailed by as many as two.
Unfortunately, the Kardinals went down by two at the worst possible time game point for the Warriors.
Kenai's Jamie Peterson hits the ball past Wasilla's Jessica Lewinski Friday night.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Things came unhinged for the Kardinals in the third game. Wasilla was able to steadily build a 10-point lead. The Kardinals were able to win their share of rallies, but their touch from the service line left them.
"I think we kind of quit playing," said Kenai setter Ali DeMello. "Our hearts were in it. We pushed ourselves hard, then kind of stopped. It's all mental for us."
The Kardinals regrouped, physically and mentally, to defeat a scrappy Houston team in Saturday's match.
The Hawks opened the match with a 27-25 win, but Kenai responded by taking three straight.
Kenai won the second game 25-21 as DeMello put together a seven-point run from the service line for the Kardinals, and Katie Foley served for the final two points of the game.
The Kardinals kept things rolling with a 25-12 win in the third game, getting a solid service game one run of seven straight points and eight overall from Samantha Calderwood.
Kenai finished off the match with a 25-18 win.
The Kardinals will return to region play with a rematch against the Soldotna Stars Friday at Kenai.
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