by Tommy Wells
The Unalakleet Wolfpack’s bid to claim a second straight Mixed-Six state volleyball championship came to a tough end this past weekend at the state tournament. The Wolfpack suffered back-to-back losses in the first two rounds of the tournament, which was held at Dimond High School.
Unalakleet, despite a solid outing from Arctic Ivanoff, dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Tanalian in the first round of the championship bracket on Saturday.
After dropping the first two games of their best-of-5 series against Tanalian by identical scores of 27-25, the Wolfpack came roaring back. They posted wins of 25-21 and 25-23 in the next two games to force a decisive Game 5.
Tanalian, then managed to escape with a 15-10 win in Game 5.
With the loss, Unalakleet fell into a consolation matchup with Nikolaevsk, which had suffered a narrow loss to eventual Mixed-Six state runner-up Gustavus in the first round.
Nikolaevsk upended Unalakleet by a 3-1 margin, winning 25-19, 16-25, 25-20 and 25-16.
Unalakleet had advanced to the championship bracket with a solid showing in Thursday’s pool play round. The Wolfpack went 1-1 in pool play, including a split of their two games with perennial state power Noatak.
Like Unalakleet, Alakanuk saw its hopes of advancing to the state finals dashed early. The Braves, who had entered the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record, dropped a tough 3-1 decision to Shishmaref in the first round on Friday. The loss dropped the Braves into a consolation showdown with Noatak.
Alakanuk’s Michael Ayunerak joined Ivanoff and Sidney Kineen as players named to the all-state tournament team.
The Akiuk Grizzlies and Aniak Halfbreeds also qualified for the Mixed-Six state tournament. Neither team, however, advanced to the championship bracket following pool play. Akiuk, which was coached by Marilyn Charles, finished its season at 12-4, while Aniak went 8-9.
The Halfbreeds were coached by Harvey Hoffman.
The Chevak Lady Comets represented the Y-K Delta in the Class 2A tournament. The Chevak girls, led by seniors Marissa Atcherian, Rivay Chayalkun and Deadre Smart, went 0-2 in their championship bracket outing.
After dropping their opener on Thursday to Su Valley, the Lady Comets fell out of the double-elimination event on Friday with a loss to King Cove.
Point Hope won the 2017 Mixed-Six state championship with a victory over Gustavus on Saturday evening. The win is the Harpooners’ seventh Mix-Six state title and completed a perfect 36-0 season. Petersburg won its second straight 2A state title with a win over rival Wrangell.
2017 Mixed-Six All-State Tournament Awards
Sportsmanship Award: Hoonah
Academic Award: Unalakleet
Outstanding Defensive Specialist: Kalenik Molodith, Nikolaevsk
Outstanding Setter: Sidney Kineen, Unalakleet
Outstanding Server: Blaine Shatswell, Gustavus
Outstanding Hitter: Matthew Tua’au, Gustavus
Jeremiah Itatunguk, Shishmaref
Kaia Bebee, Tanalian
Matthew Tua’au, Gustavus
Kalenik Molodith, Nikolaevsk
Jalen Cannon, Point Hope
Alyssa Patrick, Gustavus
Nichole Hank, Point Hope
Levi Mills, Noatak
Sidney Kineen, Unalakleet
Michael Ayunerak, Alakanuk
Caleb Alsworth, Tanalian
Arctic Ivanoff, Unalakleet