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VOLLEYBALL

Prep Volleyball: Kenai dominates final two sets, vanquishes Valdez in 4 to repeat as 3A state champion

by | Nov 11, 2023 | Cover Story, Volleyball

Emma Beck

For as good as outside hitter Emma Beck can be, the Kenai Central volleyball team isn’t a solo act.

The Kardinals have balance and depth and flexed that versatility in a four-set victory over Valdez in Saturday’s Class 3A state tournament title match to cap a 22-1 season.

Kenai won 25-18, 19-25, 25-12, 25-18 at the Alaska Airlines Center as the teams played for a state title for the third straight year, with Kenai winning this year and last year and Valdez in 2021.

Beck was her usual super self in Saturday’s final and did most of the heavy lifting for Kenai in the first two sets, but the third set was dominated by Ellsi Miller and Sophia Tapley and the fourth set was highlighted by Avia Miller.

Throw in Grace Beiser’s serving and Kate Wisnewski’s passing, and it added up to trouble for the Buccaneers.

Beck crushed 23 kills, made a couple nice assists and stood tall on defense, partnering with Ellsi Miller to create a wall-like presence at net.

Beck, a 6-foot senior southpaw, racked up 47 kills over the final two matches. On Saturday she used precision more than power, moving the ball around and finding holes in the defense.

She also made two beautiful back sets to Tapley for kills.

Led by Emma Beck (second from left), the Kenai Kardinals captured their second straight Class 3A state title. Photo courtesy James Baisden

Beck came out swinging and had four kills to fuel a 6-4 start. Her next kill made it 21-12 and her final kill secured the first set.

Tapley, another hard-hitting lefty, had five kills in the first set and Beiser supplied an 8-0 run on her serve.

After Valdez won the second set to tie the match at one set apiece, Kenai won 50 of the final 80 points to seal the deal.

In the third set, Ellsi Miller and Tapley had a hand in eight points during a 16-3 run. Libero Jaycie Castillo served nine straight points with two aces.

In the fourth set, Avia Miller smashed five kills; the first two tied the match 8-8 and 10-10 while the final one came on a free ball on match point.

Valdez got 15 kills from Momoe Togaage and seven kills from Kelsey Prax while setter Destiny Day engineered the offense.

In the opening set, Valdez fell behind by as many as nine points early before Prax had three kills during an 8-2 run that pulled the team within 22-17.

ASAA/First National Bank Alaska
Class 3A Volleyball State Championships
All-Tournament Team

Scarlet Galanin, Sitka
Jaycie Castillo, Kenai
Kailey Stynsberg, Nikiski
Tessa Anderson, Mt. Edgecumbe
Sophia Tapley, Kenai
Kate Wisnewski, Kenai
Destiny Day, Valdez
Alexa Iyatunguk, Nikiski
Hayla Trigg, Sitka
Arlene Unutoa, Barrow
Momoe Togaage, Valdez
Emma Beck, Kenai

That momentum was carried over to the second set, with Valdez building a 19-9 cushion behind Togaage’s hitting and blocking in addition to Kelli Malcuit’s tough serving.

After Kenai rattled off six straight points, Rylee Wade stopped the bleeding with a blast to make it 20-15. From there, Valdez closed it out keyed by kills from Lola Compehos and Prax.

In the third set, Valdez won the point of the match on a wonderful Wade kill after a (very) long rally that saw Compehos make two one-handed saves to extend the point. In the fourth set, Togaage torched Kenai for eight kills to keep her team in the match.

In the end, however, Kenai had too many weapons.

Story made possible by:

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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