ANCHORAGE - Even though both teams played better than they did in Thursday's opening round, the Mount Edgecumbe Braves and the Petersburg Vikings each saw their seasons end on a losing note Friday morning as they lost matches in the consolation bracket of the Class 3A state volleyball tournament at West Anchorage High School.
The Braves fell to the Glennallen Panthers, 5-15, 15-10, 15-13, 15-8, while the Vikings fell to the Seward Seahawks, 15-3, 8-15, 15-5, 15-5, in their match. The two Southeast teams were eliminated from the tournament by their second straight losses. Both Mount Edgecumbe and Petersburg lost in three-game sweeps in Thursday's opening round.
"It was just our inconsistency that showed up again," Mount Edgecumbe coach Rich Calkins said of his team's loss to Glennallen, a team making its first-ever appearance at a state tournament. "We were playing good sideout volleyball, but we didn't make any adjustments on defense. We didn't play with a lot of enthusiasm."
"We won a game, and that's positive, but we lost our intensity," Petersburg sophomore Lynsey Richards said. "We got down on ourselves and were in our usual low spirits. We need to work on keeping our spirits up."
In Saturday night's championship match, the Valdez Buccaneers repeated as Class 3A state champs with a 1-15, 15-11, 11-15, 15-5, 15-13 victory over the Cordova Wolverines in a rematch of their region title tilt won by Cordova.
It was the second straight title for the Buccaneers and fifth overall, as Valdez also claimed titles in 1988-89, 1991-92 and 1993-94 school years. Cordova was bidding for its second state title, having won its only title in 1995-96 (the state's high school volleyball season has floated from the fall to the spring and back to the fall again).
Cordova was the only Class 3A team to win a game off Juneau this season, splitting a two-game round-robin pool-play mini-match during the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza (JIVE Tournament) in October when Juneau had a couple of key players out taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The Wolverines wound up taking third place in the JIVE Tournament.
To reach Saturday's title match, the Buccaneers and the Wolverines both used three-game sweeps in Friday night's late semifinal matches. Valdez swept Heritage Christian Schools, 15-10, 15-9, 15-11, and Cordova beat Grace Christian School, 15-3, 15-8, 15-9. Grace Christian swept Heritage Christian 15-2, 15-5, 16-14 in the third-fifth place match, while Seward knocked off Glennallen 10-15, 15-12, 6-15, 15-11, 15-7 in the fourth-sixth place match.
The team sportsmanship award went to Grace Christian School, while Mount Edgecumbe won the team academic award with a 3.78 GPA last semester. The all-tournament team featured Ella Morris of Mount Edgecumbe, Libby Connor of Valdez, Kaila Hawley of Cordova, Lindsey Hanks of Heritage Christian Schools, Ashley Yates of Glennallen, Katie Blackburn of Valdez, Tara DeRuwe of Seward, Katrina VanDyck of Cordova, Valerie March of Grace Christian School, Brooke Wegner of Valdez, Meghan Francis of Grace Christian School, Lynsey Adams of Cordova.
Players from Petersburg to earn spots on the Good Sport Team were Tessa Bergmann and Anna McMurren, while Mount Edgecumbe players on the team were Sonta Hamilton and Morris. Each of the eight teams at state honored two players from their squads.
The Braves looked strong in winning their opening game against Glennallen and then took an early 8-5 lead in the second game. But Mount Edgecumbe struggled on offense the rest of the way, even though the Panthers tried to keep the Braves in the match by consistently serving the ball into the net. Mount Edgecumbe had plenty of opportunities to win, since there were an average of 35 sideouts per game (most reasonably close games are in the low 20s), giving the Braves at least 17 serves a game to serve points.
"We played really good in the first game, but then we'd go up and down," Mount Edgecumbe senior Jolene Chikigak said. "After that first game we were not moving our feet."
"We could have played better," said sophomore Kinka Parker, the only non-senior of the eight players Mount Edgecumbe brought to state. "We were like a yo-yo. We lost our focus."
One of the Mount Edgecumbe players said the early lead might have been part of the problem for the Braves.
"We played a little better today, but I think we got too overconfident," Mount Edgecumbe senior Alexis Moore said.
"I wasn't overconfident," Mount Edgecumbe senior Dora Hughes countered. "I just wanted to play."
Angie Hostetter led Glennallen (11-10 overall) with 14 kills and 23 digs, while Colleen Phillips had 13 kills, Stephanie Peters added 12 kills and two blocks, and Ashley Gates chipped in 12 kills, 20 digs and two aces. Ellie Farmer had 12 digs and three aces for the Panthers, while Sarai Snedigar added 19 digs and two aces.
No stats were available for Mount Edgecumbe, which finished the year at 10-7 overall in best three-out-of-five-game matches. Despite the two state losses, the Braves were happy with the way they ended the season.
"We made big progress," Moore said.
"We improved a lot," Chikigak added. "It's too bad our whole team, just about, is graduating."
In the Petersburg-Seward match, the Vikings figured they'd have a hard time playing one of the teams favored to win a state title before a Thursday upset. Seward easily won the first game, but Petersburg rallied to win the second game. The Seahawks, though, jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the third game and reclaimed control of the match. The teams were tied 5-5 in the fourth game, when Seward pulled away at the end, scoring the last nine points while Tara DeRuwe served.
"It was a little bit easier getting up for today's match," Petersburg junior Anna McMurren said. "But I don't think we played our best. And they (the Seahawks) weren't playing their best, either."
"We won a game, but I was slow," Petersburg freshman Brenna McMahon said. "We needed to be more supportive as a team."
Alder Olive led Seward (19-2 overall) with eight kills and Michelle Dieckgraeff chipped in five. Krista Boulden had 16 assists for the Seahawks, while Kristin Beck and Serena Hoogland made 11 digs apiece.
Brandy Cole led Petersburg (12-5 overall) with five kills and McMurren had four. Britni Birchell had three kills, seven blocks and two aces, while Alice Williams recorded three blocks, Mandie Versteeg had seven assists and five digs, and McMahon added five assists.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.