The Nikiski High School volleyball team will have the opportunity to defend its state title next week, earning the right by defeating Seward in the District 3/3A tournament title game Saturday in Anchorage. The Skyview volleyball team also will make a return trip to state.
The Bulldogs and Seahawks had split their two District 3/3A matches during the regular season. However, Nikiski was clearly the better team Saturday, notching a 15-10, 15-12 and 15-9 victory.
The Bulldogs, beneficiaries of a first-round bye, secured their trip to state and a spot in the final with a three-game sweep of the host Heritage Christian Eagles Friday. The Bulldogs beat Heritage 16-14 in the first game and followed that up with a 15-6 win in the second game.
The Bulldogs sealed the match with a 15-10 win in game three.
Seward advanced to the final with a sweep of Grace Christian in Friday's semifinal. The Seahawks defeated the Grizzlies 15-9, 15-7 and 15-11 to clinch a trip to the state tournament.
At the Region III/4A tournament at Wasilla, the Skyview Panthers dropped their Friday semifinal match to Palmer, which would go on to lose to Wasilla in the tournament final, in four games, but kept themselves alive for a return trip to state with a sweep of Soldotna in the consolation semifinals Saturday.
The Panthers were back where they started in the third-place game, facing first-round opponent Kodiak in a rematch to determine the region's third representative at the state tournament.
Fortunately for Skyview, that third-place match ended up exactly as the first-round match had. Just like on Thursday, the two teams went to five games.
And just like Thursday, Skyview was forced to battle back for the victory. The Bears took the first two games of the match 15-10 and 15-12 before Skyview battled back for 15-10, 15-3 and 15-3 victories.
Skyview lost the first two games of its match against Palmer in extra points. The Moose notched a 17-15 win in the first game and a 16-14 win in the second game.
The Panthers came back to win the third game 15-1, but Palmer closed out the match with a 15-4 win in the fourth game.
Soldotna advanced to Saturday's consolation semifinal with a four-game win over the Homer Mariners Friday. Homer took the first game of the match 15-9, but the Stars rallied to win three straight, 15-7, 15-2 and 15-4.
Skyview took the consolation semifinal with a 15-7, 15-6, 15-12 victory over the Stars.
Kenai dropped its consolation bracket match to Kodiak Friday in three games, losing to the Bears 15-5, 15-12 and 15-4. Kodiak advanced to the third-place match with a four-game consolation semifinal win over Colony.
All-Region III/4A Selections
Northern Division MVP -- Emily Sakis, Palmer
Southern Division MVP -- Christina Colvin, Skyview
Region III Coach of the Year -- Cindy Plano, Wasilla
Stephanie Deml, Colony; Chuanna Dietz, Homer; Chelsea Ward, Homer; Holly McCune, Homer; Libby Rietze, Kodiak; Stacia Pfaffe, Skyview; Hillary Zobeck, Soldotna; Stefanie Farris, Wasilla; Lacey Adcock, Wasilla; Alayna Morgan, Wasilla.
Chelayne Dukart, Colony; Amy Fischer, Kenai; Laura Rhyner, Kenai; Angelica Carreon, Kenai; Charity Christensen, Kenai; Jenny Carpenter, Skyview; Christine Hayes, Skyview; Laura Tarbox, Skyview; Jenna Pitts, Skyview; Racel Besse, Skyview; Amanda Gehring, Wasilla.
Good Sport Team
Kim Marr, Colony; Jami Epley, Homer; Crystal Morris, Kenai; Lindsey Cassidy, Kodiak; Toni Cox, Palmer; Shari Isaak, Skyview; Jenna Pitts, Soldotna; Sophia Taylor, Wasilla.
All-District 3/3A Selections
Most Valuable Player -- Mindy Cason, Nikiski
Heather March, Grace Christian; Kristen Drummond, Grace Christian; Genevieve Harger, Heritage Christian; Lindsey Hanks, Heritage Christian; April Lofstedt, Nikiski; Ashley Goff, Nikiski; Kristy Regis, Seward; Tara DeRuwe, Seward; Katelyn Wade, Susitna Valley.
Kasey Poe, Anchorage Christian; Heather Wood, Anchorage Christian; Valerie March, Grace Christian; Christine Loeffler, Houston; Dani Choate-Batchelder, Houston; Diana Vasquez, Houston; Colleen Cox, Heritage Christian; Julie Williamson, Heritage Christian; Jamie Frederickson, Seward; Amara Liggett, Seward; Melissa McNulty, Susitna Valley; Alexa Fitzgerald, Susitna Valley.
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