Mt. Edgecumbe only played one match Thursday but is two victories from winning its third straight Class 3A state volleyball title.
All of other teams in the winners bracket of the double-elimination event at Chugiak High played two matches on Thursday's opening day, but Mt. Edgecumbe advanced through the first round via forfeit and then swept Monroe 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 in the second round.
Barrow, the Braves' first-round opponent, was absent because poor weather fouled up its travel plans. Barrow flew to Fairbanks on Wednesday but a storm cancelled the team's flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage, according to Isaiah Vreeman of the Alaska School Activities Association.
"We were really looking forward to playing (Barrow)," Mt. Edgecumbe coach Richard Calkins said. "As a coach, I really wanted to get that first match in and get rid of some of those first-game jitters."
Barrow is still alive in the tournament and is scheduled to play Anchorage Christian in a loser-out game at 11 a.m. Friday. Vreeman said he expected Barrow to make it to Chugiak in time for the Friday match, but as of Thursday night, the team was still waiting in Fairbanks.
The Braves, led by 21 kills from Taryn White in a solid win over Monroe, looked poised to reach their fourth straight title match. Kathy Holly added nine kills, 28 assists and three aces and Payton Weisz hit for seven kills. White and Eden Cronk each contributed two aces.
"They're a fun team to watch," Calkins said. "When the ball is put up in the right spot for (White), she's pretty unstoppable."
Monroe, led by 12 kills from Emily Pfister, has played with heavy hearts all season after losing one of its senior players to cancer in August. Sabrina Mariutto fought a rare form of the disease for a couple of years, said Monroe coach David Obermeyer, and her parents donated pink jerseys for the team to wear in her memory this season.
"It's pretty close to the heart," Obermeyer said.
Marissa King added 10 kills for the Rams, who also got 18 assists from Andi Clark and 11 assists from Giselle Hollaus.
Monroe, which outlasted ACS 27-25, 29-27, 25-17 in a first-round match Thursday, falls to the losers bracket and will await the winner of a 1 p.m. match between Nome and Hutchison.
"We just gotta refocus and play our game," Obermeyer said. "If we play our game, we're kinda hard to beat."
Grace 3, Skyview 2
Grace Christian, the team that faced Mt. Edgecumbe in the past three title matches, earned another shot at the Braves by winning the late Class 3A winners bracket match Thursday.
Grace beat Skyview 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, getting a 27-kill, 22-dig performance from Heather Green.
"This was a really big match for us," Grace coach Valerie Steele said. "We had focused on Skyview very specifically. They're a really good team and a really big threat, and we've built practices around them for about a week."
Natalie Moore added 11 kills and six digs for the Grizzlies, with Annie Vanderweide pitching in 17 digs and Bridget Broderick contributing 15 digs.
In their first-round match, the Grizzlies swept Hutchison, 25-16, 27-25, 25-17. Skyview's first-round win came against Nome, 25-20, 25-17, 25-19.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS