Kenai's Samantha Calderwood spikes the ball past Palmer's Britany Vaughan (8) during a Class 4A semifinal game in the state volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, Friday, Nov. 12, 2004.
AP Photo/Al Grillo
Just wait 'til next year.
The Kenai Central High School volleyball team finished off a roller coaster ride of a season with a sixth-place finish at the state 4A volleyball championships Saturday at West High School in Anchorage.
"For us to make it this far, playing on the last day of the volleyball season, that's a huge accomplishment for this team," said Kenai coach Jason Diorec. "Being here, being exposed to state, the girls are definitely geared up for next year."
"This year, our goal was just to make it," said Kenai setter Kendra Steiner. "Next year, my goal will be to place.
"Setting the bar higher will make us a better team. It's a good challenge."
Following a first-round loss to Juneau-Douglas, Kenai bounced back to beat Palmer in four games Friday to advance to Saturday's fourth-place match, where they lost in four games to East High School.
"It's been the perfect senior present I could ask for," said Kenai's Kaitlin Walker. "Just going to state it's been so long for Kenai to place in regions it was just great being here."
The Kardinals came out swinging in Saturday's match, quickly taking a 10-2 lead as Jamie Peterson put together a seven-point run from the service line. Samantha Calderwood notched a kill during the run, and Emily Kocinsky came up with three blocks to go with a pair of aces from Peterson.
Kenai was able to stay out in front for the rest of the game with strong play at the net, particularly from Michelle McGlasson, and Peterson recorded a kill to give the Kardinals a 25-20 win top open the match.
In the second and third games, it was East off to a fast start as Kenai had trouble defending Thunderbirds middle hitter Jennifer Oato. East led 6-0 before a McGlasson kill put the Kardinals on the board in game two. The Kardinals did well to narrow the gap, but East won 25-18 to even the match.
Kenai's Jamie Peterson, left, and Katie Foley work to return the ball during the 4-6 place meet against East Anchorage in the state Class 4A volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, Saturday Nov. 13.
AP Photo/Al Grillo
"Their middle hitter was huge. It was hard to block she'd either hit it around you or tip it over the top," McGlasson said. "I'll have to be on my timing (to block taller players). It was a learning experience."
East also led early in game three, going up 11-2, and took a one-game lead with a 25-14 win.
Kenai got off to a good start in game four, scoring the first point and staying within four points the rest of the way. A nicely placed tip from Rochelle Stretch cut the deficit to three points, 19-16. Stretch made a block to finish off the next rally, and Walker followed with a pair of aces to tie the game 19.
The game was tied again at 20 and at 23, but a tip-kill by Oato pushed the Thunderbirds to match point. The final rally got away from the Kardinals, and East won 25-23 to take the match.
"I wish we could've pulled off another game against East, but we played hard," Calderwood said.
The Kardinals did get a strong match from Steiner. Diorec credited his seniors, Kocinsky, Walker and Stretch, with good leadership and was pleased to see junior Lindsay Keener and sophomore Katie Foley each have a good tournament.
A good showing at this year's state tournament has left the Kardinals hungry for more.
"It was definitely a raising of the bar, that a small peninsula team can pick it up and pull it out," Walker said.
"We're a little bit disappointed about the last game, but being here at state is awesome for us," Calderwood said.
"It prepares us for next year," Peterson said. "Our goal this year was to make it to state. This gets us ready for next year when we come back and kick everybody's butt."
"We've paved the road," Diorec said. "It's doable."
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