Dimond captures crown at Chugiak volleyball tournament

Led by tournament MVP Leah Swiss, Dimond captured the championship of the Chugiak Invitational volleyball tournament Saturday by disposing of Palmer in the title match and South in the semifinals.

Dimond topped a 15-team field that included all eight Cook Inlet Conference teams.

The Lynx needed to win tiebreakers against Palmer and South. They beat South 19-25, 25-23, 15-5 to reach the championship match, and then stopped Palmer 21-25, 25-11, 15-2 to win the first big tournament of the season.

In each match, Dimond’s young team — which returns just four players from last season’s state championship team — learned from first-set mistakes to win the second set and force the tiebreakers.

“We’re really trying to get our new players to play at a quicker level, so we’re a little inconsistent,” said coach Kim Lauwers. “We’re improving daily, so it’s just fun to watch, to be able to take these young kids and work with them. We did a great job adjusting.”

Swiss hammered 16 kills and Rohyn Huss and Allie McDonald both served five straight aces in the win over Palmer. Huss and Chrisalyn Johnson joined Swiss on the all-tournament team.

“We had to battle yesterday and we had to battle today, and it was like that for every team,” Lauwers said. “I think we’ve got a lot more parity in the league this year. There’s not just one dominant team that’s so much above everybody — the team with the best ball control is going to win.”