Team Alaska's junior male and junior female volleyball teams won two matches each on Thursday to conclude round-robin pool play with perfect 5-0 records at the Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
In the junior male volleyball tournament, Alberta North took Team Alaska to five games, but the Alaskans pulled out a 25-17, 14-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12 victory. Also on Thursday, Team Alaska swept Northwest Territories 25-17, 25-18, 25-10.
"It was an awesome match to witness," Team Alaska junior male coach Phil McMurray of Juneau wrote in an e-mail. "The stands were nearly full and the noise in the place was almost overwhelming."
In the match with Alberta North, Jason Hemphill of North Pole was the team MVP with 20 kills and seven digs. But there were several big contributions from Juneau's Adam Peterson (10 kills, seven blocks, 16 digs), Dmitriy Stepanov (nine kills, two aces, six digs), Bryan Diebels (six kills, four blocks), Collin Rielly (five kills, four blocks, five digs) and setter Robby Hickok (two kills, six digs). Evan Thibodeau and Brett Rielly, both of Juneau, also saw action for Team Alaska, as did Dwight Amaktoolik of Golovin.
"It was wonderful volleyball to watch," McMurray wrote. "Everyone played as hard and as focused as I've ever seen them play. But no medals yet! This means we are the No. 1 seed for the two medal rounds."
In Team Alaska's victory over Northwest Territories, Collin Rielly was team MVP with six kills, three blocks and three digs. Hemphill had 13 kills and five digs, Diebels had seven kills and Peterson had five kills and five aces.
The two victories mean Team Alaska will play Northwest Territories (2-3) in one of today's semifinal matches, while Alberta North (4-1) takes on Team Yukon (3-2) in the other. The gold and bronze ulu matches are Saturday.
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Julie Heard recorded seven kills and 10 digs to help the Team Alaska junior female volleyball team knock off Alberta North 25-23, 19-25, 25-15, 25-20 in a battle of unbeaten teams on Thursday night. The two Alberta North vs. Team Alaska matches took place at the same time on side-by-side courts. Earlier on Thursday, Heard had two kills and nine digs as Team Alaska swept Northwest Territories 25-9, 25-20, 25-20.
The victories mean the Team Alaska female team will play Greenland (2-3) in one of today's semifinal matches, while Alberta North (4-1) and Team Yukon (3-2) tangle in the other. The gold and bronze ulu matches are Saturday.
In other events Thursday involving Southeast athletes:
Gymnastics: Juneau's Paige Pahlke finished seventh in the individual all-around with a score of 34.184 points while Juneau's Alexandria Wagoner took 16th place with a score of 29.051. The individual all-around and apparatus events wrapped up the gymnastics competition for the Games.
Pahlke scored an 8.500 in the vault for sixth place, took 10th place in the uneven bars with an 8.800, finished eighth in the balance beam with an 8.150 and was ninth in the floor exercise with an 8.734. Wagoner scored a 7.884 in the vault to tie for 14th place, finished 16th in the uneven bars with a 5.667, took 15th in the balance beam with a 7.400 and was 14th in the floor exercise with an 8.100.
Table tennis: In the junior male division, Juneau's Ryan Hart posted a 1-4 record with two matches not posted in round-robin action in Preliminary Pool A, while Juneau's Eric Pak had an 0-4 record with one match not posted in Preliminary Pool B. The top two players from each pool advance to today's semifinals and ulu matches.
In the junior male doubles round-robin, Hart and Pak teamed up to post a 1-4 record, beating Alberta North 11-4, 11-5, 11-6, but losing their other matches to finish fifth in the standings. The top four pairs advanced to the semifinals and ulu matches. Hart and Pak also competed in mixed doubles, with the Team Alaska 2 pair posting an 0-5 record for sixth place in Pool A and the Team Alaska 1 pair going 1-3 for fourth place in Pool B. The Team Alaska 1 pair, which didn't list names, will play Yamal-Nenets (a Russian region) in the semifinals today.
Indoor soccer: Four of the five Team Alaska squads played on Thursday to wrap up round-robin pool play. The only team with the day off was the intermediate female team, which already had the top seed with a 4-0 record and features Juneau's Greta Thibodeau and Laura Flynn.
Colin Flynn of Juneau scored all three goals as the juvenile male team won its first game of the tournament, 3-1 over Alberta North, and took third place in the round-robin standings with a 1-2-1 record. Team Alaska plays Northwest Territories in today's semifinals.
The junior male team beat Greenland 3-2 on Thursday. Team Alaska finished fourth in pool play with a 3-3 record and will play unbeaten Team Yukon in the semifinals today.
The juvenile female team lost its first game of the tournament, 4-2 to Alberta North. Team Alaska is 2-1-1 for third place in pool play and it will take on Team Yukon (2-1-1) in today's semifinals.
The junior female team also lost on Thursday, 4-1 to Alberta North. Team Alaska finished in third place with a 3-2 record and plays Team Yukon (4-1) in today's semifinals.
Basketball: In junior male competition, Team Alaska rebounded from two straight losses to beat Team Yukon 61-55 on Thursday. Keith Stedman of Sitka scored four points for Team Alaska, which is coached by Hoonah's Arne Erickson and took second place with a 3-2 record. Team Alaska will play Northwest Territories in today's semifinals, while Alberta North and Team Yukon tangle in the other.