CIC volleyball tournament sets up for some excitement
Despite entering the Cook Inlet Conference volleyball tournament as the seventh seed, Eagle River still has a chance to make state, said assistant coach Gary Steinfort.
It’s all thanks to this year’s new double elimination format. In the past, an opening-round loss meant the end of a team’s season. That’s not the case this year.
Steinfort is in favor of the switch.
“It makes it a much better tournament,” he said.
A double elimination tournament is more even, but winning the first game is still crucial, Chugiak head coach Bobbi Mason said.
“Once you do get in that losers bracket, it will be a challenge to get back,” she said. “It will be interesting.”
Eagle River opened the tournament at Service High against No. 2 South on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Third-seeded Chugiak played No. 6 East, but scores were not available when the Star went to press.
With all the parity in the conference, the new format gives the Wolves a legitimate shot at earning the CIC’s third seed and going to state, Steinfort said. (The top three teams in the conference make the state tournament, which will be held Nov. 8-11 in Wasilla).
It’s unlikely that top-seeded Dimond and South will be upset, Steinfort said, but the fight between the other six teams will be fierce.
“Any of those teams could end up with the third spot,” he said. “It depends on who’s on and who’s off.”
“The region is even this year,” she said.
The Wolves, who enter the tournament with an improved offense, need to play consistently for success, Steinfort said.
“We have a more balanced attack than we did earlier in the season,” he said.
An Eagle River loss Wednesday would have the Wolves facing the loser of Chugiak-East today (Thursday, Nov. 1). If Eagle River wins, it would face the winner of the same match.
Provided there are no upsets, the Mustangs will face South today. Staying mentally focused will be key, Mason said.
“We’re definitely prepared physically. It’s just our mental game,” she said. “All season, it does not matter who’s on the other side of the net. Our biggest competition is ourselves.”
Mason said she hopes Chugiak’s second-place finish at the Dimond-Service tournament two weeks ago will serve as a confidence boost to her squad. The Mustangs know what’s at stake, she said, and want to reach state for the fifth consecutive year.
“We’ve had a goal of going to state since the beginning of the season,” Mason said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].