Chugiak volleyball sweeps Eagle River
Chugiak picked up a Cook Inlet Conference volleyball sweep over Eagle River at the Wolves’ Den on Thursday in the conference opener for both local squads.
The Mustangs won 25-20, 25-11, 25-19 behind 13 kills each from Claire Schimmack and Sophia Lestina and six aces by Kaitlyn Eastman.
“She brought us home with her aces,” said Chugiak coach Bobbi Mason.
Shelby Dunn had eight kills for Eagle River (0-1), which got 23 assists from Elizabeth Ruehle and a career-high 32 digs from Kaylee Barch.
Eagle River tried to stage a third-set rally, but fell short after taking an early 10-5 lead.
“We just kept our heads in it,” Schimmack said.
Chugiak (1-0) is off to a strong start this season after finishing second at the season-opening Chugiak Invitational, and Schimmack said she thinks mental toughness is one of the team’s key strengths.
“I think we’re pretty consistent,” she said.
Chugiak coach Bobbi Mason said this year’s team has a “fearless” attitude that makes them easy to coach.
“They’re really diving in,” she said. “That’s the hardest part of this game is the mental side.”
Chugiak’s goal is to reach the state tournament, which Mason said this year’s squad is fully capable of doing.
“If we stay fearless it’ll tip the scale on our side,” she said.
At Eagle River, head coach Taylor Dibiasio said he’s got similar goals for a team that continues to show improvement with every match.
“Their defense and passing was the best it’s ever been tonight,” he said after Thursday’s match.
The biggest challenge for the Wolves will be overcoming their underdog mentality, he said. Eagle River has a tendency to play well against nonconference teams but falters when going against CIC foes.
“They just don’t think they can beat them yet,” he said. “It’s a mental thing.”
Dibiasio said he thinks that’s likely to change as the team continues to improve.
“We’ll figure it out,” he said.
Eagle River plays at South and Chugiak hosts East on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.