Sports

Alaska sports week in review: East football tops West in playoffs; West tennis takes state; star seniors sweep weekly awards for UAA volleyball

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This past week featured a plethora of regular and postseason action at both the prep and collegiate level across the Alaska sports landscape. In the opening round of the Division I high school football playoffs, Bettye Davis East put the clamps on West to advance, Bartlett won a high-scoring affair with Dimond, and the Division II and III semifinals played out as expected. The Colony High volleyball team stunned top-ranked Dimond and the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team stayed hot thanks to its dynamic upperclassmen duo. Also, the prep tennis and cross-country seasons come to a close with state tournaments.

Headlines and highlights

The high school football playoffs got underway this past weekend and while almost all the higher seeds that hosted a game came away victorious, East made sure that it wasn’t a clean sweep with its 21-14 win over crosstown rival West in a CIC matchup on Friday night. Led by a tenacious defensive effort, the Thunderbirds shut out the Eagles in the second half and scored all the points they needed to prevail in the first half. They avenged a 21-6 home loss earlier in the season by returning the favor on the road.

[East shuts out West in second half to punch ticket to semifinals of Division I football playoffs]

While still winning by double figures, Bartlett’s 55-35 win over Dimond was far from commanding in a CIC showdown earlier in the same day. The Golden Bears only led 14-7 at halftime, before an offensive onslaught from both teams unfolded in the second half. Neither defense seemed to have any answer for the other’s top offensive weapon. Neither Niko Alailefaleula of Bartlett or Malachi Casey of Dimond could be stopped all game long.

“We are very physical and not just because we’re big,” Bartlett coach and 2022 CIC Coach of the Year Chance Matsuoka said. “We’re very strong and we’re in shape. We can keep pounding the ball and blocking and running hard all four quarters. That’s hard for a lot of teams to handle.”

Alailefaleula ran for 331 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground. In the fourth quarter alone, he had scoring runs of 74 and 71 yards that essentially put the game out of reach for the Lynx. The first-team, all-conference running back and linebacker also had a 60-yard touchdown called back by penalty but he was still credited with a 48-yard gain. He gave the vast majority of the credit to his road-grading offensive line.

“O-line did everything for me being successful, getting me to the second level, and I hit the burners,” Alailefaleula said. “I wouldn’t get the yards without them and we wouldn’t get the win without them.”

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Casey tormented the Golden Bears’ secondary for most of the game as he and fellow senior Tyler Reese connected for three touchdowns, all of which went for over 20 yards. The all-conference quarterback-and-wide receiver connection kept Dimond within striking distance through the first three quarters. Reese completed 21 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns and Casey caught nine of those passes for 195 receiving yards. Senior wide receiver Vance Harris also had a standout performance with seven receptions for 120 receiving yards and a pair of 20-plus-yard touchdowns.

The football team wasn’t the only varsity program from Dimond to experience the bitter taste of defeat in the past week. The Lynx’s top-ranked volleyball team suffered its first loss to an Alaska opponent last Monday on the road when Colony upset them in four sets 3-1. It marked the first non-tournament meeting between the two teams this season and the senior-heavy Knights’ roster came away with a huge confidence-building statement win. Tatum Shelton and Taylee Weiss tied for the team lead in digs with 19 and Weiss recorded a double-double by leading the team with 17 kills.

“I think it’s a good confidence boost,” Colony coach Steve Reynolds said. “You get that experience and say ‘Hey we can do this, we can beat this team’ at a good time in the season.”

While the Dimond football team had its season come to an end, its flag football team advanced to the semifinal round of the CIC regional playoffs with a 34-0 shutout of Eagle River. The Lynx had four players score touchdowns on offense, led by junior Mai Mateaki, who ran in a seven-yard score and caught another from 10 yards out.

It wasn’t all bad for West High sports this past weekend as its tennis program claimed its 10th state title and fourth in a row. The Eagles were highlighted by their state title-winning boys and girls doubles teams and state runner-up mixed doubles team but were propelled by their tremendous depth.

[West claims 10th Alaska high school state tennis championship in another landslide]

The Eagles have had three different pairings win each of the last three girls doubles state titles with one constant being senior Eva Lief. The three-time champion has been one of the program’s stalwarts during her time at West.

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Chugiak star senior distance runner Campbell Peterson completed her dominant final cross-country season by leading the Mustangs to a Division I state title in the girls division. She cruised to a first-place finish with an impressive mark of 19 minutes, 16 seconds, and the team finished well ahead of the rest of the field with a total score of 42.

[Chugiak, Colony and Grace Christian among big winners at Alaska state cross-country championships]

On the college volleyball scene, UAA improved its overall record to 19-1 and stayed a perfect 9-0 in conference play with a pair of overwhelming victories over Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene within a 72-hour period. Leading the charge were the usual suspects in star seniors Eve Stephens and Ellen Floyd, who earned weekly conference honors for their play in the two matches. Stephens extended her conference record of weekly awards to 12 with her fifth of the season and first of the defensive variety. Floyd was named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week, which marked her first of the season and fourth of her career.

The UAA hockey team got swept by Colorado College in a two-game road series. The Seawolves lost 6-2 on Friday and 4-1 Saturday. Connor Marritt, Brett Bamber and Maximilion Helgeson tallied goals for the Seawolves on the road trip.

The Anchorage Wolverines bounced back from getting swept by the Minnesota Wilderness last week in a three-game road series by sweeping the in-state rival Fairbanks Ice Dogs in a two-game road series this past weekend. They won 6-2 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday.

Last Week’s Results

Prep Football

Friday

Bartlett 55, Dimond 35

East 21, West 14

Colony 51, Service 34

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Houston 40, Barrow 0

Soldotna 34, North Pole 20

Saturday

Juneau 52, South 21

Lathrop 35, Chugiak 0

Homer 54, Nikiski 20

Flag Football

Thursday

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South 38, Chugiak 0

Dimond 34, Eagle River 0

Service 16, Bartlett 0

West 7, East 0

Swimming

Friday

Dual meet

West v Dimond

Boys: Dimond 119, West 57

Girls: Dimond 124, West 52

South v Service

Boys: South 135, Service 48

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Girls: Service 123, South 56

Prep Volleyball

Monday

Colony 3, Dimond 1 (25-20, 13-25, 25-21, 26-24)

Thursday

Chugiak 3, Bartlett 1 (16-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-17)

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Dimond 3, South 0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-16)

Friday

Service 3, Eagle River 0 (25-20, 27-25, 25-11)

Saturday

Dimond 3, Service 0 (25-12, 28-26, 25-16)

Riflery

South 7, West 0

Service 5, Dimond 2

Prep tennis

State Tournament

Girls singles

(Double elimination format with elimination sets going to 4 games instead of 6)

Play-in

Siekmann, West Valley, def. Littlechief, Colony, 3-6, 7-5, 13-11

First round

Al. Pedalino, Service, def. Peace, Wasilla, 6-0, 6-0

Az. Pedalino, Service, def. Green, West, 6-1, 6-3

White, Monroe Catholic, def. Pikul, Juneau-Douglas, 6-1, 2-6, 10-3

Yu, West, def. Siekmann, 6-0, 6-1

Second round

Al. Pedalino def. Az. Pedalino, 6-2, 6-3

White def. Yu, 3-6, 6-2, 11-9

Third round

Al. Pedalino def. White 6-1, 6-2

Loser-out

Littlechief def. Peace 4-2, 4-1

Littlechief def. Green 1-4, 4-1, 10-8

Pikul def. Siekmann, 4-2, 4-1

Pikul def. Aż. Pedalino 5-3, 5-4

Yu def. Littlechief 4-1, 4-1

Pikul def. Yu 4-0, 4-1

Pikul def. White 4-0, 4-0

Finals

Pikul def. Al. Pedalino 7-5, 3-2 (retired)

Pikul def. Al. Pedalino 4-0, 4-1

Boys singles

(Double elimination)

Play-in

Siekmann, West Valley, def. Christianson, Colony, 6-1, 6-0

First round

Escobar, Service, def. Crawford, Colony, 6-0, 6-0

Welch, Juneau-Douglas, def. Ilgenfritz, West Valley, 6-0, 6-0

Griffin, South, def. Brooks, Dimond, 6-2, 6-3

Cerbian, West, def. Siekmann, 6-4, 6-3

Second round

Escobar def. Welch, 6-2, 6-1

Griffin def. Cerbian, 6-4, 6-2

Third round

Griffin def. Escobar, 6-3, 3-6, 16-14

Loser-out

Crawford def. Christianson, 4-0, 4-1

Crawford def. Ilgenfritz 4-2, 2-4, 10-8

Cebrian def. Crawford 4-2, 4-0

Siekmann def. Brooks, 4-1, 4-0

Siekmann def. Welch, 4-0, 4-2

Siekmann def. Cebrian 4-0, 0-4, 10-6

Escobar def. Siekmann, 4-1, 4-0

Finals

Escobar def. Griffin 6-1, 6-3

Griffin def. Escobar, 1-4, 5-3, 10-7

Girls doubles

(Double elimination)

Play-in

Hollcraft/Dahle, Lathrop, def. Pettit/Baker, Palmer, 6-1, 6-2

First round

Spils/Fagerstrom, Dimond, def. Scanlon/Anderson, Lathrop, 6-0, 6-0

Bixby/Ligsay, Juneau-Douglas, def. Payne/Loggins, Colony, 6-1, 6-3

Lief/Yang, West, def. Hanna/Moffett, Chugiak, 6-0, 6-0

Hollcraft/Dahle def. Li/O’Leary, West, 6-1, 6-3

Second round

Spils/Fagerstrom def. Bixby/Ligsay, 6-0, 6-1

Lief/Yang def. Hollcraft/Dahle, 5-7, 6-1, 10-6

Third round

Lief/Yang def. Spils/Fagerstrom, 6-4, 6-1

Loser-out

Scanlon/Anderson def. Pettit/Baker, 5-4, 4-0

Scanlon/Anderson def. Payne/Loggins, 5-3, 4-1

Hollcraft/Dahle def. Scanlon/Anderson, 4-2, 4-0

Li/O’Leary def. Hanna/Moffett, 4-1, 5-3

Li/O’Leary def. Bixby/Ligsay, 4-1, 2-4, 10-7

Hollcraft/Dahle def. Li/O’Leary, 4-2, 4-1

Spils/Fagerstrom def. Hollcraft/Dahle, 2-4, 4-1, 10-8

Finals

Spils/Fagerstrom def. Lief/Yang, 7-5, 6-4

Lief/Yang def. Spils/Fagerstrom, 4-2, 4-1

Boys doubles

(Double elimination)

Play-in

Zimmer/Flynn, West, def. Hoyt/Mobley, Wasilla, 6-3, 6-4

First round

Clendaniel/Cebrian, West, def. Buss/Kohlhase, Juneau-Douglas, 6-0, 6-1

Ulman/Bailey, South, def. Whitney/Motton, Colony, 3-6, 6-0, 10-7

Reinheller/Reinheller, West Valley, def. Lafond/Kim, Lathrop, 6-3, 6-3

Teasley/Yoon, Dimond, def. Zimmer/Flynn, 6-2, 6-0

Second round

Clendaniel/Cebrian def. Ulman/Bailey, 6-2, 6-3

Teasley/Yoon def. Reinheller/Reinheller, 3-6, 6-4, 10-7

Third round

Clendaniel/Cebrian def. Teasley/Yoon, 6-2, 7-6

Loser-out

Hoyt/Mobley def. Buss/Kohlhase, 5-3, 1-4, 10-8

Whitney/Motton def. Hoyt/Mobley, 4-2, 4-0

Reinheller/Reinheller def. Whitney/Motton, 5-3, 4-0

Zimmer/Flynn, def. Lafond/Kim, 0-4, 5-3, 10-8

Zimmer/Flynn def. Ulman/Bailey, 1-4, 5-3, 10-6

Reinheller/Reinheller def. Zimmer/Flynn, 4-2, 4-1

Teasley/Yoon def. Reinheller/Reinheller, 4-5, 4-2, 10-6

Finals

Clendaniel/Cebrian def. Teasley/Yoon, 6-2, 6-4

Mixed doubles

(Double elimination)

Play-in

Macasland/Slama, Eagle River, def. Toche/Caldentey, Palmer, 6-1, 6-0

First round

Jameson/Skaaren, South, def. Hilling/Beardsley, Lathrop, 6-0, 6-0

Jung/Batac, Dimond, def. Matteson/Jones, Ben Eielson, 6-0, 6-2

Smith/Sedwick, West, def. Cox/Breshears, Wasilla, 6-1, 6-1

Dale/West, Juneau-Douglas, def. Macasland/Slama, 6-1, 6-0

Second round

Jameson/Skaaren def. Jung/Batac 6-0, 6-0

Smith/Sedwick def. Dale/West, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9

Third round

Jameson/Skaaren def. Smith/Sedwick 6-3, 7-6

Loser-out

Hilling/Beardsley def. Toche/Caldentey, 4-1, 4-1

Matteson/Jones def. Hilling/Beardsley, 2-4, 4-2, 10-5

Dale/West def. Matteson/Jones, 4-0, 4-0

Macasland/Slama def. Cox/Breshears, 4-0, 4-0

Jung/Batac def. Macasland/Slama, 1-4, 4-2, 10-6

Dale/West def. Jung/Batac, 2-4, 4-2, 10-2

Smith/Sedwick def. Dale/West, 4-0, 4-2

Finals

Jameson/Skaaren def. Smith/Sedwick, 7-6, 6-4

College

Volleyball

Thursday

UAA 3, CWU 0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-16)

Saturday

UAA 3, Northwest Nazarene 1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21)

Hockey

Friday

Colorado College 6, UAA 2

Saturday

Colorado College 4, UAA 1

NAHL

Friday

Anchorage Wolverines 6, Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2

Saturday

Anchorage Wolverines 4, Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2

Three things to watch for this week

Prep football

Colony at Bartlett, 3 p.m. Saturday

While East takes on top-ranked Juneau in the state capital, the Golden Bears will host the Knights at the same time in town for the second time this season. The last time these two teams played came in Week 6 of the regular season and Bartlett handed Colony a humbling 46-7 loss. Since then, the Knights have won each of their last three games by nearly 20 points, including back-to-back blowouts over Service to close the regular season and in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs. Two of the state’s best players will see plenty of each other in this game. Offensive Player of the Year Niko Alailefaleula of Bartlett and Defensive Player of the Year Jack Nash of Colony play both ways for their respective teams.

Division II and III state championship games, noon and 4:30 p.m. Saturday

A pair of title games will take place just before and right after that matchup at Service High School when Lathrop and Soldotna play each other at noon and Houston will take on Homer later that evening at 4:30 p.m. While the Hawks and Mariners have already played this season and will do so again to decide who takes home the Division III championship, the Malamutes and Stars have been on a collision course to meet in the Division II championship. This will mark the teams’ third straight meeting in the state title game, excluding the 2020 season when their was no state playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College volleyball

Seattle Pacific at UAA, 7 p.m. Thursday

The Sewolves will be returning home following a three-matchup road trip and will be looking to extend their impressive winning streak from 11 to an even dozen when they host the Falcons at the Alaska Airlines Center. These two Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams faced each other once already this season in a tightly contested match that went down to the wire and UAA came out on top 3-2 on Sept. 17. Two days later, the Seawolves will host another GNAC opponent in Montana State Billings at the same time and place.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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