Athletes of the Week: Holmes, Beck help lead Kenai Volleyball to first State Championship

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 7:39 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It took a couple of heartbreaks, but the Kenai Kardinals finally won their first state volleyball championship this past weekend led by spikers Cali Holmes and Emma Beck, with the backing of the Krazy Kards fanbase.

”All I can say is thank you. They have been supporting us for so long,” Holmes said after playing in her final game with Kenai Central. “My family out here, they’re all crazy. Our whole fans are crazy, but crazy in the best way.”

The elusive Class 3A state championship trophy slipped through their grasp in the title game in 2019, and again last year at the hands of Valdez. Beck was tabbed the state’s ‘Best Hitter’ while avenging last year’s loss with a sweep over the Buccaneers.

“My mom’s been through it thick and thin, I cried in her arms last year and I hugged her this time with a smile on my face. It is just an amazing feeling for her and me,” Beck said about her mom, Tracie Beck.

”I think it is pretty awesome. Your kid is in the mix of this and that is what you dream of,” Kenai head coach Tracie Beck said. ”It is hard to be the coach’s kid. There is a lot of pieces to that. It is fun just to see her develop into this player that was solely a basketball player when she was younger and to see that switch and just love playing.”

”Emma Beck is just the best, you can’t say enough about Emma Beck,” Holmes said. “She ties us together. Seriously, she is the glue, she keeps us sane.”

On the other side of the court, Holmes had one last shot at the state title, doing whatever it took to hang the first volleyball banner for Kenai.

“Cali is just an amazing person and player,” Beck said of her teammate. “She actually had to move to the outside for the best of our team. She took it in strides and as you can see she is just killing it out there and she adapted to anything we threw at her this season. It is really cool to see.”

”She has meant the world to us,” Tracie Beck said. “She has such a great personality and she keeps people relaxed and that really helps.”

Holmes made the sacrifices and thrived her senior year because she knew winning the school their first state championship in the sport was bigger than her.

”It means so much, seriously,” Holmes said of bringing the trophy home to Kenai. “We have all been trying so hard this season from the summer, all until now and all four years. Just being able to do it for our community and not just ourselves.”

Holmes and Beck were named to the All-Tournament team along with senior teammates Jorgi Phillips (named Best Setter) and Kimberly Chanley.

Beck will return for her senior year to defend the title, while Holmes leaves her legacy behind as she graduates.

”It feels really great to know we left the girls after us with all of this confidence that if we did it, they can too,” Holmes said.