Nikiski’s hopes of a state volleyball championship ran into a 6-foot-2 wall on Thursday at the Class 3A tournament at West High in Anchorage.
Monroe Catholic, led by 6-2 senior Melissa Rima, defeated the Bulldogs 25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 23-25 and 15-11.
Nikiski now faces Grace Christian today at 9 a.m. in a fourth-place semifinal. The Bulldogs have defeated the Grizzlies four times this season.
“I think we did everything we set out to do,” Nikiski coach Bruce King said. “We couldn’t control their big middle hitter. That was the story of the match.”
Rima helped lead Monroe to Class 3A state basketball titles in her freshman and sophomore years. Last season, she transferred to North Pole. There, she helped the Patriots to a second-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament, earning all-tournament team honors in the process.
She transferred back to Monroe for her senior year and her height makes her a big weapon on the court.
“She’s just too big,” King said. “She hit over the top of our blockers. That made it difficult for our diggers.”
King said his squad did an admirable job trying to dig Rima. Danielle Bower was named Nikiski’s player of the match for her 17 digs and her excellent serve-receive.
On offense, King also said his team was solid.
“We swung like we wanted to,” he said. “All the games were close. The big difference was (Rima’s) offense.”
Hannah Thompson had 24 digs, 22 kills and eight blocks for Nikiski, while Clare Bennett added 22 digs and six kills. Kyla Jorgensen had 24 assists, while Sherra Pritchard had 11 kills and nine blocks, Kim Copeland had six kills and Flossie Jorgensen had five blocks.
The Bulldogs now face the task of recovering from Thursday’s defeat in time to try and win today and make it to the fourth-place match. King said it’s always hard to tell how a team will recover from a loss.
“I don’t think you can ever really tell, but I do know these girls have a lot of pride,” King said.
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