Nikiski takes Friday, Saturday matches from Cordova
That’s what Nikiski volleyball coach Amber Oliva-Douglas begged of her squad as it earned a two-game Southcentral Conference sweep of visiting Cordova on Friday and Saturday.
The Bulldogs struggled to a 21-25, 25-15, 25-16, 17-25, 15-9 victory Friday on a night they failed to communicate. Saturday, the squad won 25-18, 25-16, 24-26 and 25-14.
Oliva-Douglas said the team was on the same page for the most part Saturday, but there were still breakdowns.
“They were communicating and playing with consistency in the first two games,” the coach said. “Then in the third game, they stopped talking entirely.”
With the wins, Nikiski finishes the season 8-6 overall and 5-3 in the Southcentral Conference. The Bulldogs open the conference tournament Friday at Anchorage Christian Schools as a No. 3 seed. Their opponent has yet to be determined.
On Friday, Oliva-Douglas said the Bulldogs were lethargic. It took a 6-0 run in the final frame to finally put away the Wolverines.
Taylor Calderwood, who earned the final six service points, paced the Bulldogs with 11 kills. Teammate Cydney Spurgeon added seven, and Savannah Griffel posted 14 assists.
Minna Bogard was active on defense, earning 54 digs.
But all the talk after the match was about the Bulldogs’ failure to communicate, something that’s plagued the squad at times during the campaign.
“The whole season we have had a really hard time of being consistent. This wasn’t one of our best games doing that,” Bogard said. “When we start talking it gets a lot better. Everyone thinks talking is going to fix it, which it doesn’t always and can be annoying, but for us it does.”
Nikiski’s communication shortage was most visible during a Game 4 in which Cordova used runs of 6-0 and 7-1 to build a large lead and ride it into the fifth set.
There were times when soft shots dropped between two Bulldogs because no one called for the ball.
Those mistakes, Oliva-Douglas said, must be avoided — especially at this juncture of the season.
“You have to eliminate stuff like that at the varsity level,” the coach said.
Yet the Bulldogs showed resiliency in breaking open a 9-all tie in the fifth game to salvage the win.
The squad wasn’t at full strength, either.
Rebekah Krogseng, who doesn’t have much varsity experience, started at middle hitter. She is the fourth player to occupy the position in the past two weeks.
Former starter Kinsey Martin is out with an injured ankle, sustained two weeks ago at ACS. Second-stringer Bailey Buchholz is gone for the season because of ineligibility. And third-stringer Morgan Tschida recently quit.
That left a vacancy for Krogseng.
“There isn’t a lot of time to get her caught up, but she stepped in and played the position like she had played it all season,” Oliva-Douglas said.
The coach also praised Dylan Holloway for playing strong defense, and placing her passes and shots with accuracy.
Saturday, the Bulldogs fell behind by 10 in Game 3 after winning the first two. But they responded with a decisive win in Game 4 to complete the weekend sweep.
That figures to give Nikiski a boost of confidence heading into the playoffs.
“We’ve had some really good games and some really bad game. We’re hoping we have a really good game at regions,” Bogard said. “We have a really good chance, I think.”