Wolves finish high, Mustangs get trophy

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 20:00
ER volleyball fourth overall while Chugiak earns consolation prize
Eagle River’s Lexie Curtis was named to the all-tourney team.

A banged-up Eagle River squad finished fourth in the 20-team Service-Dimond tournament over the weekend at Dimond and Service High Schools.

“I can’t be disappointed,” said coach Katie Hulse after her team fell 2-0 to East Anchorage in the third-place match Saturday, Oct. 22. Hulse’s team roared into the Gold division bracket with a solid 5-3 record during Friday’s pool play. The Wolves then picked up 2-0 wins over Valdez and Service on Saturday before falling in back-to-back matches against Dimond and East. Dimond went on to win the Gold division title.

Hulse had to move several players around because of low numbers. Those changes paid off in the form of Lucy Thomas, who thrived in her move from a back-up to the team’s starting libero. “She did an excellent job,” Hulse said.

Thomas led all Wolves players with 63 digs in the tournament. Eagle River also got 47 kills and 73 assists from Lexie Curtis, who was the only local player named to the All-tournament team. Kelsey Reeves added 64 assists and Morgen Wohrle had 34 kills and 52 digs.

Hulse said her team’s ability to deal with playing out of position was the biggest positive to come from the tournament. “They really had a lot of change in a short amount of time and they did well with it,” she said.

Although they finished fourth overall, the Wolves didn’t take home a trophy — something that can’t be said about Chugiak, which found itself in an unfamiliar position by playing in Saturday’s Silver (or consolation) bracket.

Following Friday pool play, the Mustangs were just 1-7 and dead last in the 20-team tournament. That’s not quite up to snuff for a team that’s used to making state tournament appearances.

In fact, coach Kelly Kavanaugh said he’d never had a team play in the Silver division in eight years as head coach. And, he said, he let his girls know about it. “I just painted a picture of where they were,” Kavanaugh said. “I said I’ve never experienced that as a coach.” Chugiak’s players must have got the message, as the Mustangs went undefeated on Saturday to claim the trophy.

Chugiak’s Kara Haussler said the biggest difference between Friday and Saturday was Chugiak’s defensive mindset. Instead of everyone doing their own thing, she said, the team played more as a unit on Day 2. “On the court, you have to be really connected,” she said. “Yesterday I didn’t think we were doing that.” Haussler said Chugiak cruised through the Silver bracket because teams were finding holes in the Mustang defense to be few and far between. “Our defense today was as good as it’s ever been,” she said.

Despite having to travel to Service and play in the less-glamorous Silver division, Kavanaugh said he was happy that his team responded well. “It’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

The Cook Inlet Conference regular season wraps up this Friday, Oct. 28, with Chugiak (9-4) hosting West and Eagle River (6-7) hosting Bartlett at 7:15 p.m.

The Cook Inlet Conference tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 2. Chugiak will be seeded No. 3, while Eagle River is the fourth seed.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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