Liz Nelson returns to coach Port Lions

Port Lions’ Marquee Strong reaches for the volleyball during a match against Kodiak’s junior varsity team at Kodiak High School Friday. Kodiak’s Hannah Wandersee looks on.(Derek Clarkston photo)

Liz Nelson is back.

The longtime Port Lions volleyball coach who retired at the end of the 2007 season is once again coaching the Kings.

“My heart has always been in volleyball,” Nelson said.

Nelson replaces Dana Strong, who coached the team the past two seasons.

Nelson said she came back because she wanted to coach an all-girls team — something she hasn’t done in more than 10 years.

Last season was Port Lions’ first all-girls squad since the mid-1990s. Prior to last season, Port Lions played mix-6 volleyball — a conference formed in 1998 for village schools that allow males to play on the team.

This year’s team fields a roster of nine — three more than last season. Seniors Katie Strong and Cierra Robustellini are the team captains.

“They are a great group of girls,” Nelson said. “They are kind, they are considerate. They are team players.”

Rounded out the roster are returning players senior Sariah Bjornn, sophomores Marquee Strong, Raissa Boskofsky and Keana Bendixen, and freshmen Marah Bjornn, Emma Nelson and Sharmaine Kewan.

The three freshmen played on the team as eighth-graders last season.

Port Lions’ season started Friday with a loss to Kodiak’s junior varsity team, but they followed with a pair of victories on Saturday against the Bears.

“They had some nerves and bugs to get out of their system for sure,” Nelson said after Friday’s match. “Normally, they are strong hitters.”

Prior to Friday, Port Lions scrimmaged against moms and former players.

“We get whoever we can to come out and make us look good,” Nelson said.

Port Lions schedule includes one more trip to Kodiak on Oct. 22, home matches against the rest of the Kodiak Island village teams the first week of November and two trips to New Stuyahok — the last trip being for the region tournament.

Nelson is no stranger to winning. She coached Port Lions to the mix-6 state title in 2003 and a third-place finish in 2005.

She was the mix-6 state coach of the year in 2003.

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