The Nikiski volleyball team defeated Anchorage Christian Schools on Saturday to win the Southcentral Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs notched a 25-17, 25-20 and 25-23 victory over the host Lions. It was the second time in three years the Bulldogs won the conference. It also was the second time in three years that Hannah Thompson was named the conference’s most valuable player. Thompson was a unanimous selection.
Grace Christian defeated Seward 25-15, 21-25, 16-25, 25-12, 15-11 in the third-place match. The Grizzlies earned a trip to state while ending Seward’s season.
Last season, Nikiski lost in the championship game of the tournament after going into the tournament undefeated.
“We talked about that,” Nikiski coach Bruce King said after his squad improved to 16-1 overall and 12-0 in the conference. “We talked about this tournament being a steppingstone for our ultimate goal.
“We wanted to play tough and set the stage for next week.”
King said Nikiski’s ultimate goal is to win state. By winning the conference tournament, Nikiski will not have to play another conference’s No. 1 seed in the first round of the state tournament, which starts Thursday at West High in Anchorage.
The Bulldogs sparkled on defense in the championship game. Flossie Jorgensen had 10 blocks, while first team all-conference player Sherra Pritchard added seven blocks.
As a team, Nikiski, led by Thompson’s 21 digs, had 66 digs. Second team all-conference player Clare Bennett had 12 digs, while Danielle Bower, a member of the good sport team, had seven digs.
“Blocks and digs we focused on that in preparing for this weekend,” King said. “We knew the team with the best defense would come out on top.”
Thompson added 16 kills in the championship game, while Bennett had six kills. Kyla Jorgensen, a first team all-conference player, had 18 assists.
The Bulldogs made it into the championship by defeating Seward 25-21, 25-15, 21-25 and 25-23 on Friday in the semifinals.
Thompson had 15 kills, 22 digs and three service aces in the match. Bennett added five kills, five blocks and 14 digs, while Sherra Pritchard had four kills and nine blocks.
Also for Nikiski, Kyla Jorgensen had four kills and 21 assists, Flossie Jorgensen had 11 blocks, Rachel Bogard had three service aces and Bower had 19 digs.
“We knew, because we played them in our last conference match, that they had improved considerably,” King said of the Seahawks. “We knew they would be tough because they have a big middle hitter Katie Peck. We had a tough time controlling her.”
King said the Bulldogs played good defense against Seward, and also served well.
“We are peaking at the right time,” King said.
Earlier Saturday, Seward had advanced to the third-place game by defeating Heritage Christian 25-18, 25-15 and 25-14.
Coach of the year: Janet Kinney, Grace Christian
Most Valuable Player: Hannah Thompson, Nikiski.
First team: Sherra Pritchard, Nikiski; Stephanie Fleetwood, Seward; Katie Peck, Seward; Janessa Anderson, Seward; Melina Simmers, ACS; Liz Metcalf, Grace; Kyla Jorgenson, Nikiski; Lauren Slaymaker, Grace; Anna Simmers, ACS.
Second team: Dana Ranum, Houston; Alena Katzenberger, Houston; Caylee Redford, Houston; Clare Bennett, Nikiski; Katie Kain, Seward; Elisabeth Hubbell, ACS; Whitney Weems, Grace; Kate Ferrin, Grace; Alisa Stuart, Heritage.
Good sport team: Stephanie Wells, ACS; Kristie Hofseth, Grace; Kyleen Smith, Heritage; Kate Hoppe, Houston; Danielle Bower, Nikiski; Nicole Fulwider, Seward.
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