This past week featured several impressive performances and exciting finishes at the prep, collegiate and amateur levels across the Alaska sports landscape. On the high school and college volleyball front, the Dimond varsity girls and University of Alaska Anchorage women’s teams claimed titles. Eagle River edged Service to claim its fifth straight region title in riflery. Meanwhile Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby earned a second Big 12 honor swimming for the University of Texas.
Headlines and highlights
Another high school season came to a close this past week as the 3A and 4A state championship girls volleyball tournaments ran from Thursday through Saturday. For the second weekend in a row, a girls team from Dimond was crowned state champion after the swim team won state last weekend. The Lynx came into the tournament as the state’s top seed but had to battle their way back to qualify for the title match after losing to rival West in the second round.
They were able to avenge their lone loss to the Eagles of the season by beating them in three straight sets to force an if game since the event was in a double-elimination format. After outscoring West 30-20 in what was essentially a tiebreak super set after a brief pause in action, Dimond won its first state tile since 2018.
In the 3A bracket, no one could hold a candle to the Kenai Central Kardinals who finished as runner-ups at last year’s state tournament but came back with a vengeance and on a mission this year. They lost just one set during their dominant title run that ended with the mother-daughter duo of coach Tracie and hitter Emma Beck embracing after leading the team to its first state title. The Kardinals swept reigning champion Valdez in three sets a year after the Buccaneers bested them in five.
Volleyball wasn’t the only exciting prep postseason action that went down over the weekend as the Region IV Riflery Championships took place as well. Eagle River held on to the ‘Big Ugly’ trophy by edging South Anchorage by one point in the regular-season standings. On Saturday, they claimed their fifth consecutive region championship by topping Service by three points with a combined 12-team member score of 3,261.
The Wolves were led to victory by Isabelle Greidanus, who won the top individual honors with a three-position score of 286 and had three other shooters finish in the top 10 of individual scores including Landon Vorhes who finished second behind Greidanus with a score of 282-10x. Iris Rowland of West shot the lone 100 score of the match in the prone position.
Last weekend the South gymnastics team claimed its second straight Region IV title by scoring a program record 229.925 total points, which was more than 20 points more than rival and host Dimond, which came in second with 208.850. The Wolverines were propelled to victory thanks to a strong showing in the bars and floor events.
“We were the last team to compete, everybody else was done, and I told them to just not think of it as a competition and put on a show and a performance and just enjoy the moment,” South head coach Haley Salazar said. “I think that put a little pressure off of them and they really went above and beyond what they needed to do.”
Individual winners included South gymnasts Gracelyn Williams (8.55) on the vault (8.55) and Emma Marsh (9.425) on the floor. South’s Melia Case won on the bars (8.45) and on the beam (9.10). Marsh edged Case for the all-around crown.
The South wrestling team dominated at the Cook Inlet Conference quad meet that was held at Chugiak on Wednesday. The Wolverines beat Bettye Davis East 57-21, Dimond 84-0 and the host Mustangs 75-3. Eagle River ran the table at the quad held at Bartlett that included beating West 48-33, Service 39-38 and the host Golden Bears 60-6.
Olympian Lydia Jacoby won a second Big 12 honor last week competing for the University of Texas. The freshman swimmer from Seward was named Newcomer of the Week in the conference after winning the first race of her collegiate career. Jacoby won the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:09.19 in a dual battle with University of Virginia. Jacoby also earned the honor on Oct. 26.
The UAA women’s volleyball team continued its 2022 dominance by winning its final two regular-season matches to claim the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title. The Seawolves secured a share of the title by sweeping Western Oregon in three sets on Thursday and won it outright by doing the same to Saint Martin’s on Saturday. They edged out four-time defending champion Western Washington who they swept in the regular season to win their first conference title since 2016 and just their fourth since joining the conference 21 years ago.
The UAA women’s basketball team continued its strong start to the season Sunday with a decisive 79-70 win over Hawaii Pacific. The Seawolves had a trio of players record double-digit points with senior forwards Jahnna Hajdukovich and Vishe’ Rabb tying for the team lead in scoring with 17 points a piece. Sophomore forward Kate Robertson recorded her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a team-leading 12 rebounds.
The UAA men’s basketball team also traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, over the weekend to take part in the GNAC/PacWest Challenge and dropped a pair of close games to Chaminade on Friday and Hawaii Pacific on Saturday. The Seawolves were led in scoring in both games by Anchorage native Da’Zhon Wyche with a pair of 20-plus-point outings and went 7-of-18 from behind the arc between the two contest including going 4-for-8 in the 74-73 loss to the Sharks on Saturday.
The UAA men’s hockey team had its losing skid extend to four games after getting swept in a second straight two-game series last weekend. This time around it came at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils, who beat the Seawolves 5-2 on Friday and 3-0 on Saturday to complete the sweep. Graduate transfer Jamie Collins and freshman defenseman Brett Bamber scored the Seawolves’ goals in the first game.
Last week’s results
Eagle River 84, Bartlett 0
Service 60, Bartlett 6
West 60 Bartlett 9
Chugiak 54, Dimond 22
Chugiak 42, Bettye Davis East 36
South 75, Chugiak 3
Bettye Davis East 60, Dimond 12
South 84, Dimond 0
Eagle River 48 West 33
Eagle River 39, Service 38
South 57, Bettye Davis East 21
Service 34, West 32
South 69, Lathrop 57
Lathrop 72, Bethel 60
Girls - North Pole 23, West Valley 18
Boys - North Pole 48, West Valley 29
Palmer 48, Dimond 36
Colony 18, Bartlett 0
Palmer 40, Thunder Mountain 24
Colony 65, Dimond 6
Colony 60, Thunder Mountain 10
Region IV Championship
1. Eagle River 3,261; 2. Service 3,258; 3. West 3,186; 4. Dimond 3,178; 5. Chugiak 2,168; 6. South 3,168; 7. East 1,237; 8. Bartlett 1,173
Top 10 Individual Scores
1. Isabelle Greidanus (Eagle River) 286; 2. Landon Vorhes (Eagle River) 282-10x (K: 98-5x); 3. Cadence Cook (Chugiak) 282-10x (K: 96-3x); 4. Wyatt McDonald (Eagle River) 281-14x (K: 96-4x); 5. Jacob Sims (Dimond): 281-14x (K: 88-2x); 6. Aviana Bierl (Eagle River): 281-9x; 7. Henry Riffe (Service): 280; 8. Dane Kersten (South): 279-10x; 9. Sophie Wilts (Service): 279-6x; 10. Mylee Flatt (Service): 278.
Dimond 11, Eagle River 0
West 13, Bartlett 1
Wasilla 4, Dimond 3
Dimond 6, Palmer 3
Houston 3, Dimond 0
UAA 3, Western Oregon 0 (25-19, 25-8, 25-15)
UAA 3, Saint Martin’s 0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-23)
Chaminade 82, UAA 77
Hawaii Pacific 74, UAA 73
UAA 79, Hawaii Pacific 70
ASU 5, UAA 2
ASU 3, UAA 0
Three things to watch for this week
ASRC/ConocoPhillips Great Alaska Shootout
After a four-year hiatus, the storied annual hoops tournament is back and will take place at the Alaska Airlines Center on Friday and Saturday. The undefeated Seawolves (2-0) begin their weekend action with a matchup with Division I University of California Riverside on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and the championship game will take place at the same time on Saturday.
There will be three straight days of high school hockey action with a trio of Cook Inlet Conference matchups that will be played at Ben Boeke Ice Arena from Tuesday to Thursday at 6:30 p.m. First up will be South and Bartlett on Tuesday followed by crosstown rivals East and West on Wednesday, and the Golden Bears will be back in action on Thursday against reigning Division I state champion Dimond.
Lancer Smith Memorial Tournament
There won’t be any dual meets in town this week because all the teams will be getting ready to head out to the Mat-Su valley to take part in the annual tournament that will include divisions for all high school wrestling classifications as well as middle school and elementary school competition. The event’s high school action takes place on Friday and Saturday and all three days will be held at the Menard Arena in Wasilla and hosted by Palmer High School.