Lady Nanooks win in Utqiagvik
The Nome-Beltz volleyball team traveled to Utqiagvik over the weekend for a four-way tournament against Barrow, Eielson, and 4A Lathrop. After a marathon day, which included three games, the Nanooks lined up at 9:00 p.m. to take on Lathrop in the championship match. By 11:00 p.m. the Nanooks were the champions.
“Nome and Lathrop had the hardest schedules, with both of our teams playing two best-of-5 round robin games on Saturday right before the single elimination bracket games, which were also best-of-5,” said Lady Nanook coach Lena Danner. “Barrow and Eielson got to play two best-of-5 games on Friday, and only one best-of-5 game on Saturday before bracket play.”
The Nanooks downed Barrow Friday evening in four sets. Their second best of five games was Saturday morning against Lathrop, the big school from the big city, and the Nanooks downed them in four sets. The Lady Nanooks then faced Eielson, defeating them in three sets. This completed the round robin and earned the Nanooks top seed going into the single elimination bracket.
“We knew Saturday would be a long day for us, but the girls are well conditioned and do lots of cardio,” said Danner. “It is for tournaments like this that the girls have a focus on conditioning for specific amounts of time at every practice.”
The first bracket match was against Eielson and the Nanooks took them in three sets. Barrow and Lathrop played and Lathrop prevailed. This set up the championship game between the Nanooks and Lathrop. Both teams had already played three games on Saturday, a total of fifteen matches each.
“Nome wins the first set pretty smoothly and we are feeling like we’ve set the tone for the match,” said Coach Danner. “But just as we refuse to let a long day of volleyball wear us out, Lathrop is also coming strong late in the evening, defeating us in the next two sets.
We get into the fourth set feeling no pressure. The Nanooks know what they are capable of and know this match is far from over. We defeat Lathrop in a close fourth set.”
“We are now in the final set of the entire tournament, the twentieth (and fourth match) set for both Nome and Lathrop on Saturday. Something we always tell ourselves before games is to ‘Start strong, finish strong. Start like a Nanook, finish like a Nanook.’ And that is not something the girls took lightly in that fifth and final set as they came through with the win! We finished playing at 11:00pm.”
This is the first tournament the Lady Nanooks have won since the 2015 Arctic Pinkies. The seniors on this team were freshmen then.
Kastyn Lie and Teri Ruud, both seniors, were named to the six-player all tournament team.
“Our team had a lot of built up excitement going into our game against Barrow,” said Danner. “They were the last team in the region that we needed to play to size up our competition for the regional tournament in three weeks. The regionals are in Nome this year.
“We have previously played Bethel twice and Kotzebue four times, defeating both teams in all matches. After our win against Barrow, we are currently undefeated in all our games against teams in our region, which puts us at first seed for the regional tournament thus far.”
The Nanooks meet Bethel next week in the Arctic Pinkies Tournament, Oct. 12 and 13. The following week they meet Bethel and Kotzebue in Bethel. On Oct. 26 and 27 they face Barrow, Kotzebue, and Bethel in the Western Conference Regional Tournament in Nome.