South and Dimond will battle for the Cook Inlet Conference volleyball championship tonight, and although the Wolverines own two regular-season victories over the defending state champions, South coach Judy Knecht says that doesn't matter one bit.
"We swept Dimond twice, but the slate's clean now," she said after Friday's semifinals at Service High. "Everyone's at zero now."
South, the CIC regular-season champs, breezed to a 25-14, 25-8, 25-12 victory over East to secure both a spot in today's 6 p.m. championship match and a berth in next week's Class 4A state tournament in Wasilla.
Dimond reached the title match and the state tournament by surviving a 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-12 marathon against Chugiak. The teams split their regular-season matches and Friday's meeting was as competitive as could be.
Kristi Lauwers fueled the Dimond victory with 12 kills and 18 digs, and more offensive fire came from Sierra Afoa and Leah Swiss, who blasted nine and seven kills, respectively. Aaliyaa Lewis came up big defensively with 35 digs and Alyssa Jones finished with 10 digs and 30 assists for the Lynx.
South got a huge match from 5-foot-10 middle blocker Katelynn Zanders, who dominated the net with eight blocks and five kills. Sarah Johnson added nine kills, Lindsey Logan had nine digs and Morgan Hooe put up 33 assists for the Wolverines.
East was led by Lauren Lauruhn's 12 digs, Wenda Poleo's four kills and Christina Pili's 11 assists.
East and Chugiak will meet at 4 p.m. today in the third-place match, with the winner joining South and Dimond at the state tournament.
As for the championship match, it features an enticing showdown between a pair of top programs that have lots of history with each other.
South swept Dimond to win last season's CIC championship, but the Lynx struck back at the state meet, sweeping South in the title match to secure their third straight state championship. Dimond began its championship run in 2008 by ending South's three-year reign as state champions.
"They're our favorite team to play," Knecht said.