The Bartlett Golden Bears and the South Wolverines, who met in last season’s state championship volleyball match, opened the Cook Inlet Conference season with decisive victories Tuesday night.
The Golden Bears swept Service 25-20, 25-17, 25-11 at Bartlett High, and the Wolverines dispatched visiting East 25-18, 25-23, 25-14.
Less decisive but more dramatic were wins registered by Eagle River and Dimond, which both recovered from first-set losses to triumph in five sets.
In Eagle River, the Wolves held off the rival Chugiak Mustangs 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 16-25, 15-6. At West High, Dimond held off the Eagles 23-25, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 15-10.
Eagle River got a boost from the service line, where Abrianna Phinney served five aces, Kayleigh Meneses served four and Chloie Garber and Caelen Lower each had two.
Meneses tallied a team-high 11 kills, Lower added eight and Garber had seven. Running the offense was Liz Ruehle with 35 assists.
Eagle River dominated the final set thanks to its teamwork, coach Rochelle Burcell said: “Everyone did their job, kept the ball in play and only made a few errors.”
At West, Dimond boasted three players with double-doubles — Jazzy Golly (13 kills, 17 digs), Lauren Sulte (13 kills, 14 digs) and Larssen Anderson (10 kills, 12 digs). Olivia Kelzenberg contributed eight blocks and Kadyn Osborne had 31 sets.
At Bartlett, the Golden Bears got big offensive contributions from Judith Utuga (9 kills) and Sinalynn Roberts (7 kills, 9 assists). Zaysharae Malia-Hughes added seven digs. Service’s Hannah Lentfer and Arieta Manu each had seven kills and Ashley Hayes handed out 20 assists.
In the South-East match, the defending state champion Wolverines survived a close second set to get the sweep. East’s loss came despite a 14-dig, five-kill night from Precilla Fagafaga.
South won last season’s Division I state championship match by beating Bartlett in four sets.
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