Kinnick wins in three straight sets on Senior Night
Story and photos by Greg Mitchell
Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils volleyball ended regular season play on a positive note, defeating the Yokota Panthers in three straight sets, 25-18, 25-15, and 25-20 at Kinnick gym, Oct. 30. With the victory, the Lady Red Devils finished at 13-3 going into the Far East Championship.
After losing to Seisen 16-25, 16-25 and 19-25 two nights earlier, the victory over visiting Yokota had a special feel to it due to the night being dedicated to the senior class.
“Senior night is just a day where seniors are recognized, and it just so happens that we have six on our squad,” said head coach Anthony San Nicolas. “For them to win on a night like this in front of their families, friends and classmates should be special for them.”
Rhyssa Hizon, Charla Johnson, Kadeshia Jones, Audri Salter, Shakita Samuels and newly acquired player via transfer, Katrina Reed all consist of the senior class in volleyball.
Rhyssa Hizon and Katrina Reed each had six spike kills, as well as including five defensive digs each. Shakita Samuels had five service aces and Charla Johnson had 22 set assists.
“There was a lot of emotion early on, due to it being senior night,” said San Nicolas. “But they managed to hold it together as a group, settle down and pull through.”
Due to budget constraints, this year’s Far East has been trimmed down to eight teams instead of 16; host Yokota, Seoul American, Christian Academy of Japan, Kubasaki, Kadena, Seisen International, Kinnick and four-time defending champion, American School in Japan (ASIJ).
“I expect a lot of strong performances from the schools of our region,” said San Nicolas. “I don’t know what to expect from the two teams from Okinawa. From what I have heard, they are powerhouses.”
After cruising through the first two sets, Kinnick began the third set with strong defensive play at the net and with a 16-6 lead, Yokota coach Evelyn Locatelli called a timeout to regroup.
The Panthers proceeded to climb back into the game and cut the Lady Red Devils lead to 21-20 before San Nicolas himself called a timeout. Kinnick then closed out the set by scoring the final four points to end the match, led by the serves of Kadeshia Jones.
“It feels really good to end the season this way on senior night, heading into Far East,” said Reed. “It means so much to me especially after all the long years I have put into volleyball. My sophomore year was a losing season; my junior year at Zama we finished second but, for senior year here, yes, the sun is definitely shining!”