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VOLLEYBALL

Prep Volleyball: East fends off Dimond in if-necessary match to capture first CIC title since 2006

by | Nov 5, 2023 | Cover Story, Prep Spotlight, Volleyball

East’s Lajirah Boma goes on the attack. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

For the first time since 2006, the East Thunderbirds are Cook Inlet Conference volleyball champions.

The evenly matched conference didn’t disappoint during Saturday’s tournament championship match at Service High School, as it came down to the wire for the eventual champions against longtime volleyball powerhouse Dimond.

After being swept by East 3-0 in Friday’s quarterfinal, the first set seemed like payback for the Lynx as they pounced over the T-birds 25-13. The Lynx had just finished a riveting five-set match against third-place finisher Service.

East rallied back with commanding wins of 25-15 and 25-11 in the second and third sets before Dimond regained the edge with a 25-15 win to tie up the match.

The hotly-contested fifth set saw each team trade points, with Dimond finishing 15-12 to hand the T-birds their first loss of the tournament and force the if-necessary match to 30 points.

While both sides tossed the momentum back and forth, they were bolstered by the gym’s equally electric atmosphere, with packed bleachers launching back-to-back cheers.

East’s Monika Rezic serves one up. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

The energy swelled through the if-necessary match, culminating when East senior outside hitter Mariaha Afuvai’s match-winning kill dropped over the net to seal the win and erupt the crowd.

In a long season headlined by strength across the conference, resiliency has been key for both teams.

During a timeout near the end of the fifth set, chants of “We believe, East!” rang through the gym.

The phrase adorns team warm-up shirts and has become a rallying cry for coach Garrett Danner’s growing program.

“We knew we had a team that could do something. But these girls haven’t been here before,” he said after Saturday’s win. “We’re just starting a program and we have to believe we have the talent. But it takes more than that. You have to believe – it’s a grind.”

Dimond’s Eleasha Sapon digs out a spike. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

“Dimond brought it and they played extremely well,” Danner added. “They put pressure on us and I’m so happy that we pulled it out.”

On the other end of the gym, Dimond coach Kim Lauwers is proud of her players for how they’ve grown through the season after losing 10 seniors last year.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” she said. “Neither team was gonna give up. Unfortunately, we came out on the losing side of it.”

The season wraps up this week with the ASAA state championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

East junior outside hitter Lajirah Boma and sophomore middle hitter/middle blocker Evelyn Whitson were named to the first team all-conference, joined by Dimond senior setter/right-side hitter Amelia Muhlbauer and junior libero Eleasha Sapon.

Service coach Austin Osborne was named CIC Coach of the Year.

CIC Volleyball All-Conference
FIRST TEAM

Lajirah Boma, East
Dakota Evans, Service
Kiara Iloilo, Service
Ellie Kleven, South
Reese Lake, Chugiak
Paige Miller, Service
Amelia Muhlbauer, Dimond
Nina Mangini, Eagle River
Eleasha Sapon, Dimond
Evelyn Whitson, East
Rylie Widener, Service
Marija Wunnicke, South
SECOND TEAM
Ava Egeline, Eagle River
Zareah Faavali, Bartlett
Athaliah Faiilagi, East
Patri Ferran, Service
Cora Kallen, Chugiak
Andrea Misa, West
Monika Rezic, East
Sophie Rogers, South
Brooklyn Rollman, Eagle River
Brooklyn Williams, Dimond
Taivia Williams, Eagle River
Val Yocum, Dimond
HONORABLE MENTION
Talisa Gionson, Bartlett
Addison DeCaro, Chugiak
Sarah Dittman, Dimond
Natalie Armending, Eagle River
Mya Oliver, East
Heida Young, Service
Eliana Birch, South
Matagi Maugaotega, West

Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Story made possible by:

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

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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