Grace Christian defeated Nikiski in the finals of the Southcentral Conference volleyball tournament Saturday at Grace Christian in Anchorage.
The Bulldogs came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed after going 16-0 overall in the regular season and 10-0 in the conference.
Grace was right behind the Bulldogs though, claiming the No. 2 seed after only two losses both to Nikiski in the conference regular season.
Nikiski had defeated Grace in three games the week before the tournament, but the Grizzlies notched a 22-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20 victory Saturday. Both teams still earn a berth to the state tournament.
"The players are sad about the outcome," Nikiski coach Bruce King said. "They'll regroup Monday, head up to state Wednesday and give it their best shot."
Hannah Thompson led the Bulldogs in the championship match with 18 kills, 23 digs and nine blocks.
Also for the Bulldogs, Sasha Auldridge had 25 digs, Stacey Griffel had 15 digs, four kills and 20 assists, Georgie Heaverley had eight kills, and Sherra Pritchard had 15 blocks and four kills.
King said Grace is a strong offensive team with a number of nice hitters. He said his team was tentative on offense, and that resulted in Grace getting better swings than it did in the match a week ago.
"They've got a lot of weapons on that team," King said of the Grizzlies. "Basically, every break went their way. They played a great match."
King also said Grace had a nice home-court advantage.
"I think any time you lose in the conference championship, you work a lot harder preparing yourself for the state tournament," King said. "This is a tough team that didn't come out on top tonight."
Nikiski had cruised into the championship match with a sweep of Seward on Friday in the semifinals. The scores were 25-19, 25-9 and 25-22.
Thompson had 16 kills and seven digs, Auldridge had 11 digs, Sherra Pritchard had six blocks and Griffel had 21 assists.
Griffel, Heaverley and Huhndorf made second-team all-conference for Nikiski, while Thompson made the first team. Grace senior Katelyn Perry was the most valuable player in the conference.
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