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By JOE JUDD
Daily News Sports Editor
The Ketchikan High School Lady Kings volleyball team fell in three sets (15-25, 9-25, 13-25) to the Lady Crimson Bears of Juneau-Douglas High School on Friday night at the Clarke Cochrane Gym.
It was the team’s first home match in over a month, and it was the first time Kayhi and Juneau-Douglas faced off since playing just once in the Volleyball Spiketacular in Anchorage.
Kayhi head coach Beth Sandefur said that her team has improved a great deal in the weeks since its last meeting with the Lady Crimson Bears where the Lady Kings lost 25-6 in a single, pool play one-set match.
“The team on the floor tonight played so much better and improved so much from the first time we saw JDHS,” Sandefur said after the match. “I’m really proud of the girls.”
The Lady Kings battled in a back-and-forth opening set, going ahead 7-5 after falling behind 4-1 to begin the set. Kayhi and JDHS were tied at eight and then tied at 11 before the Lady Crimson Bears pulled away with the lead and eventually the set.
Kayhi took a set backward in the second set, failing to reach double digits after the promising start in the first set.
“There are some frustrations; there are some silly mistakes that we’re making,” Sandefur said. “We have a few things to fine tune and clean up.”
Sandefur went on to say that her players have excelled at playing together as a team, even when things don’t end up as originally planned.
“(The players) are communicating and playing as a team, so I’m really happy with that,” she said.
Sandefur’s team took the first point of the third and final set and led by a margin of 7-6 at one point, only to see its lead trickle away with the match.
Having self-confidence and believing that they can stand toe-to-toe with their opponents is something that Sandefur said her players need to do in order to hold onto and extend the leads they have obtained early in some sets.
“I think there’s some nerves at play when they see those other players,” Sandefur said. “You just have to believe that (Kayhi) is just as good as our competition; as long as they stay together as a team and play smart, they can win that game.”
Sandefur said she was happy to see the home fans come out to the gym to support the team, commending the noise they made throughout the three sets, after looking back to Kayhi’s previous home match against Thunder Mountain High School that was somewhat sparsely attended.
“I’m so grateful for all the people who came out tonight to support our team and cheer them on with loud voices and high energy,” she said. “(The players) really do feed off of that and it makes it feel like it’s their home court and they get to have pride in playing in their home court.”
Kayhi and Juneau-Douglas will play again on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. with two junior varsity games, followed by the varsity team 15 minutes after the conclusion of the final JV game.
It will be senior night for the Kayhi players.