Nikolaevsk powers to 4th at state tournament
ANCHORAGE — Going into the 2017 First National Bank Alaska/ASAA Mixed-Six State Volleyball Championships, the Nikolaevsk Warriors felt they were among the best teams in the state. When they walked off the Dimond High School court on Saturday afternoon, everyone else felt that way, too.
A perennial state power, Nikolaevsk powered its way to another top-five finish with a rousing victory over the Noatak Lynx in the consolation championship game.
Overall, Nikolaevsk went 4-1 in the three-day tournament, which was held on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
"I am very proud of my kids," said Nikolaevsk coach Bea Kraich, who has led the Warriors to the state tournament in each of the last five seasons. "They had a tough loss to Gustavus in the first round, but they came back and played well. I'm proud of them for coming to play."
Nikolaevsk made its presence felt quickly in the tournament. The Warriors rode the play of Kalenik Molodih and Michal Trail to a quick start against Gustavus, which had entered the game with a perfect 12-0 record. The Warriors took the first game of the best-of-5 series by a score of 25-21.
Unfortunately for Nikolaevsk, Gustavus' Matthew Tua'au got going from there. A 6-foot-5 hitter, he carried the Foxes to win the next three games, 25-23, 25-23 and 25-21, and claim a 3-1 decision.
The Warriors rebounded nicely from the loss. Nikolaevsk upended Unalakleet in the consolation semifinals by a 3-1 margin.
"Everyone was kind of discouraged (after the loss) but we came together and got it going," said Trail, a junior center/hitter. "We might have did as well as we could have early on, but we got it going. We aren't a one-person team. Once we got going, it went well for us. We worked together as a team so well."
The win over Unalakleet send Nikolaevsk into the fourth-place game to face off against defending Mixed-Six state champion Noatak on Saturday.
Noatak fell into the consolation round of the bracket following a first-round loss to eventual state champion Point Hope.
Nikolaevsk had little trouble taking care of Noatak. The Warriors swept the game, winning 25-22, 25-17 and 25-16.
Molodih, one of just two seniors on the NHS roster, was recognized as one of the tournament's top players. The 6-foot hitter was tabbed the tournament's Outstanding Defensive Specialist.