Athletes of the Week: Kenai’s Beck, Wasilla’s Pitney lead respective schools to state volleyball championships

Athletes of the Week: Kenai’s Beck, Wasilla’s Pitney lead respective schools to state volleyball championships
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:41 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Different journeys but the same result for standout senior spikers Emma Beck of Kenai and Rylee Pitney representing Wasilla, each of whom helped lift their teams to state volleyball titles over the weekend.

Beck had been here before, guiding Kenai to the program’s first state championship in 2022. The 6-foot outside hitter capped off her illustrious career Saturday with 23 kills in a four-set victory over Valdez in the Class 3A state championship match.

“It is just like what you dream of as a kid, being with the team, get the game-winning hit, it’s just such an amazing feeling,” Beck said with an all-state tournament medal around her neck. “The girls, I am just so proud of them.”

“I am just ... satisfied. I mean, I’m a senior so this is the way I wanted to go out,” she added.

Beck thrived in her final game as a Kardinal and in her final game being coached by her mother, Tracie, who has been by her side on the sideline since third grade.

”As a freshman, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” Tracie Beck said of her daughter. “But she has definitely grown up in front of me, especially on the court and when they do hard things in sports you can see them successfully do hard things in life, they’re not afraid of that. And so I didn’t feel like she was afraid today, I feel like she was hungry and focused.”

In Class 4A, Pitney scored the opening point of the match and the closing dagger to help lift the Warriors volleyball team to its first state championship in more than 20 years.

“Amazing, I am so excited to have a valley team finally come through again, I mean it has only been Dimond or South since like 2004, so I just really want to show that we have what it takes out there,” Pitney said.

Something her head coach Katie Oxspring envisioned when the 6-foot-3 outside hitter first entered her gym.

”I have watched her work hard since the first time she came into one of our middle school camps in seventh grade and so to see her rise to where she is now is just a true blessing for me as her coach,” Oxspring said of her senior. “She comes from a terrific family and she is just a great teammate and the team just roots for her as much as everyone else does.”

Both spikers were named the tournament’s most outstanding hitter and are currently exploring options to play collegiate volleyball.