The Unalaska Raiders kicked off their volleyball season with a strong start and a lot of fight, winning their first match in the Lumen Christi Spiketacular Tournament this week. The young athletes and their new head coach traveled to Anchorage to compete against six teams in the annual tournament.
Joni Scott, the former head coach for the Unalaska cross country team, now leads the island’s volleyball team, which started playing tournament matches around 9 a.m. on Saturday and didn’t finish until nearly midnight that night.
The team won their first match against Galena and played a total of six matches at the tournament.
Scott said that first win boosted the team’s confidence and built up team morale.
“And then once they had that first win in … they were just unstoppable,” she said. “They knew to set up the ball [and] needed to work together as a team. They worked seamlessly together. And it was really neat to see the girls talking and supporting each other and being there for each other, and just seeing how hard they worked on the court, as well as off the court.”
While fatigue had settled in by the time the Raiders started their battle against Lumen Christi, the athletes played hard, barely losing their final match.
Scott said it was a long day of playing, especially for a young team with so few players who had traveled to compete before. She said she thinks the team will have a good chance of winning their next conference game against Lumen.
Scott said she enjoys the fast-paced nature of the game, but there’s a lot of differences between coaching cross country and volleyball.
“[For] cross country, you put them on the road and make them run,” Scott said. “There’s little rules to follow, but not a ton of rules. [For] volleyball, there are so many rules — with different positions, rules with the libero, where the libero can go, all the paperwork with lineups, the subs. So it’s not like you put six girls on the court and call it good.”
Scott said the tournament was a productive learning experience for everyone, herself included.
“Even though I had traveled before for cross country, still, I made a lot of mistakes as a coach that I learned on this trip, so it was neat we are all learning together,” Scott said. “But now, we’ve learned from our mistakes and we’re gonna go get them next time.”
The Raiders will have little time to rest, with two matches ahead of them this weekend. Half the team will head to Sand Point Saturday and the other half will host King Cove at home at 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.