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VOLLEYBALL

Prep Volleyball: It’s anybody’s game as Cook Inlet Conference tournament nears

by | Oct 24, 2023 | Cover Story, Prep Spotlight, Volleyball

Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

As the Cook Inlet Conference volleyball tournament approaches, one thing remains on coaches’ minds – it’s still anybody’s game.

Last weekend’s Dimond/Service Volleyball Tournament offered a chance for teams to hone lineups against both conference and non-conference opponents in preparation for next week’s tournament, capping a season that has been more competitive than in recent years.

The conference’s increasing parity has been talked about all season, with good reason – just one win separates No. 1 Dimond (11-2) with East and Service (10-3) while South (8-5) and Chugiak (7-6) are close behind.

Service coach Austin Osborne and his players are motivated by the stiff competition.

“We know we have to bring it every night, and if we don’t, we’re not going to get that win because the conference is too strong,” he said.

The Cougars showed that during Saturday’s gold bracket tournament play when they bounced back to beat East after a quarterfinal loss to Dimond. They went on to beat Dimond twice, clinching the tournament title.

“I think we’re reaching our potential at the right time, which is good,” said Osborne, later adding, “Winning is a byproduct. It’s really important to me, it’s really important to the girls, but at the end of the day, they’re here to play volleyball. And they’re doing it really well right now.”

West players look on at last year’s state tournament. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

With the Eagles coming off a second-place finish in last year’s ASAA 4A championships, West coach Jaige Gerig hopes returning players’ postseason experience will work in the Eagles’ favor. Though West struggled in conference play this season with a record of 4-9, having a roster led by seniors and juniors adds another level of urgency.

“There’s a lot more pressure on the older classmen to just rise above and create that same level of intensity,” Gerig said. “I think we’re a wild card. I think everybody understands that since there is such a level across the conference, that anybody is fair game.”

For East coach Garrett Danner, the tournament was another chance for his team to gel.

“They’re just starting to trust each other as a family, as a team knowing that they can come back no matter what happens,” Danner said. “They’re just starting to know that they can play with anybody in this state.”

The T-birds’ turnaround season has set high expectations for the team, which Danner says has been on their minds every match.

“Winning is enjoyable but it does come with a lot of pressure,” he said, adding, “It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure, but we’re going to try and finish strong.”

CIC Volleyball
Tonight, 7:30pm start time
Bartlett at Eagle River
Service at Chugiak
South at Dimond
East at West

The South Wolverines went into last weekend’s tournament with a small roster due to illness, but coach Amy Mestas took the opportunity to prepare her bench for regionals.

“I would say one of the really fun things about our team is that we’re really balanced,” said Mestas. “We’re spending a lot of time working on what I would say ‘doing hard things’ because it’s going to come down to the emotional, mental side of the game.”

Tonight brings final conference matchups for several frontrunners, as both Dimond and South and East and West face off.

“We always have fun,” said Mestas. “We usually draw a really big crowd and that’s fun. That’ll be great prep because we’ll get to play in front of a large crowd with a lot of noise.”

On the other side of town, East is looking for a win tonight to earn the second seed and the chance to host a region match for the first time in likely a decade, said Danner.

“Fill our gym, support these ladies by attendance,” he said. “We’d like to see a lot of people in our stands supporting us, it’s just a big help.”
 

CIC Volleyball Standings

TEAM CONF
Dimond 11-2
East 10-3
Service 10-3
South 8-5
Chugiak 7-6
West 4-9
Bartlett 1-12
Eagle River 1-12

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Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

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