New coach takes over Chugiak volleyball
Though under direction of a new head coach, Chugiak High volleyball has the same goal — make the state tournament.
“We’re hoping to make it to state,” Mustangs’ first-year coach Bobbi Mason said at the Chugiak Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 25.
Chugiak has made four straight state appearances, finishing fourth last year, third in 2010, fifth in 2009 and second in 2008.
If the Mustangs want to make it five, strong defense and passing are essential, said senior Kathleen Gill.
“Having a good defense, that’s the key,” she said.
Gill is one of three returning seniors. The others are McKenzie Kish and Kara Haeussler.
Other returners include juniors Kirsten Veech and Bailee Hughes and sophomore Rachel Gregg.
Chugiak lost four seniors: Karlee Kavanaugh, Anna Matthews, Mollie Matthis — each of whom were first-team all-Cook Inlet Conference selections — and Kristy Howard.
The Mustangs have plenty of talent to fill the void left by the departing graduates, Gill said. The team just needs some time to work on its game, she said.
“We’re gonna have a good team,” Gill said. “We’re just getting the hang of it.”
After falling into the loser’s bracket, the Mustangs rebounded to win the silver division championship at the Chugiak Invite. Chugiak beat Colony — who defeated them earlier Saturday — in straight sets 20-16, 20-11 in the title match.
South won the gold division title, beating Dimond 20-16, 20-18.
After seeing 12 other teams compete — including every CIC squad except West — Mason said there’s a lot of parity in volleyball this season.
“It’s not only a strong region, but it will be a strong state tournament as well,” she said.
The past seven Class 4A state titles have been won by South or Dimond. Last year, South never lost a set en route to an undefeated season.
Mason, who used to coach at Eagle River, took over for Kelly Kavanaugh. A 1996 Chugiak graduate, Mason played volleyball for the Mustangs.
Adjusting to a new coach isn’t easy on a team, Mason said.
“Whenever you take over a team, the transition is difficult,” she said.
But the Mustangs, who all have positive attitudes, are handling it well, Mason said.
“They want to work hard,” she said. “They want to improve.”
Thanks to Mason’s focus on conditioning, Chugiak is entering the season in top form, Gill said.
“She’s really kicking our butts,” Gill said. “Lots of running.”
Chugiak opened the regular season with a 3-0 win over Bartlett on Aug. 23.
The Mustangs hosted East on Wednesday, Aug. 29, but a score was not available when the Star went to press. Chugiak plays at Eagle River on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:15 p.m.
For success this year, Chugiak needs to have consistency, Mason said.
“We want to play disciplined volleyball,” she said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or email@example.com.