The Hoonah Braves took a big step toward a return to the championship match with a four-game victory over Kenny Lake in Thursday's opening round of the Class 1A-2A-3A (West) state volleyball tournament.
The Braves lost their first game, but won the next three for a 20-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-9 victory at Anchorage's Dimond High School. That puts Hoonah into today's 4:45 p.m. semifinal against Barrow, which swept Tok 25-15, 25-16, 25-12 in another opening-round match on Thursday. The semifinal winners will advance to Saturday's 5:30 p.m. state championship match.
Hoonah has been the state runner-up the last three years and has been to the championship match five times since the Class 1A-2A-3A (West) state tournament was created in 1997. The Braves have won just one state title, in 1998.
In other first-round action, the Klawock Chieftains lost their opener, as Dillingham swept them 25-10, 25-13, 25-16. Also on Thursday, Nome-Beltz swept Ninilchik 25-20, 25-21, 25-22. Dillingham and Nome-Beltz will play in today's 3 p.m. semifinal, while Klawock and Ninilchik will play at 11:30 a.m. in a consolation match.
The Gustavus Foxes lost Thursday in the first round of the coed mixed-six state volleyball tournament, which also is taking place at Dimond this weekend.
Marshall needed five games to knock off Gustavus 25-14, 13-25, 25-11, 21-25, 15-10 in a rematch of last year's opening round.
In Thursday's other first-round matches, Port Lions beat Galena 23-25, 25-23, 10-25, 25-10, 15-13; Selawik knocked off Shishmaref 25-21, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23; and Mountain Village swept Kwethluk 25-14, 25-15, 25-16.
Today's semifinals pit Port Lions against Marshall at 6:30 p.m. and Selawik vs. Mountain Village at 8:15 p.m. The state championship match is at 8 p.m. Saturday. Gustavus will play Galena at 8 a.m. today in a consolation match.