The Nikiski volleyball team failed to qualify for the Class 3A state championships thanks to consecutive losses at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday and Saturday.
After losing to Seward 3-0 in a winner-to-state contest Friday, the Bulldogs fell to ACS in five sets Saturday. The scores were 25-16, 25-15, 18-25, 16-25 and 19-17.
Saturday, the Bulldogs played without setter Savannah Griffel, who was out with the flu. That forced the team to use a 5-1 offensive scheme, which it hadn’t done all season.
“Our season has really been about overcoming adversity and setbacks,” Nikiski coach Amber Oliva-Douglas said, adding it took the squad two games to get comfortable in the 5-1 formation. “They came out and ran it and played the last three games relentlessly and aggressively.”
ACS had a 14-8 lead in Game 5 Saturday before the Bulldogs scored six straight points with Sienna Wallis on serve.
The teams exchanged the ensuing six points, but ACS won the next two rallies to break the 17-all tie.
“It was really exciting,” Oliva-Douglas said.
Friday’s outcome was a disappointment.
Although Nikiski lost two regular-season matches to Seward, both went five sets and none of the games were decided by more than five points.
The Seahawks, who lost the title match in five sets to Grace, cruised Friday by scores of 25-13, 25-11 and 25-16.
“Pregame was really good — the girls were confident, they were ready to play, out effort was solid, everything was looking like it was going to be really competitive,” Oliva-Douglas said. “Something happened when they got out on the floor. They played insecure and it was really crippling. I know they were disappointed in their play.”
Oliva-Douglas said Rachel Thompson, Taylor Calderwood, Dylan Holloway, Cydney Spurgeon, Minna Bogard and Paris Davis all contributed.
“They really wanted to see a better showing with the scores, but what I was proud of was what they all said afterward — ‘Yes, we are disappointed, but this was the most fun, competitive season we’ve had,’” the coach said. “I was proud they were able to identify all the positives.”
Chelsey Clarke, Sew; Sarah Geagle, ACS; Rachel Thompson, Nik; Misa Webber, Cor; Angie Kelly, Cor; Brandi Taylor, Gra; Taylor Calderwood, Nik; Maggie Fleming, Sew; Nicole Weisenfelder, Gra.
Hannah Karlberg, Gra; Dallas Dickerson, ACS; Minna Bogard, Nik; Heather Green, Gra; Gretchen Lindquist, Sew.
Most Valuable Player — Brooke Leadbetter, Gra.
Coach of the Year — Connie Weisenfelder, Gra.
Hannah Pasol, Gra; Cydney Spurgeon, Nik; Hollie Duncan, ACS; Franchesca Ubierra, Cor; Gretchen Lindquist, Sew.