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We can’t believe it’s already mid-December.

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Arlene Wanda Nelson, 77, died Dec. 11, 2018, in Ketchikan. She was born Arlene Wanda Charles on Oct. 29, 1941, in Ketchikan.
12/1/2018
State tourney put on hold after earthquake: Craig, Wrangell volleyball teams ‘doing fine’
The Craig High School Lady Panthers celebrate their Region V Small Schools tournament championship victory at Metlakatla High School on Nov. 17. Craig, along with the Wrangell High School Lady Wolves, was representing Region V in Anchorage this week in the 2A state volleyball tournament when an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit. Everyone is safe. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek


By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor

Ashley Hansen jumped out of bed.

Her hotel room’s TV was shaking.

“Oh my goodness,” she said.

Her three Craig High School volleyball teammates rooming with her were still lying down.

“We need to get somewhere,” she said. “Get in the closet.”

So Hansen, along with her three teammates, ran to the tiny closet in their Anchorage hotel room. And the four of them hunkered down, surrounded by luggage, as an earthquake — measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale — rattled Anchorage at 8:29 a.m Friday.

Craig, along with Wrangell High School, are in Anchorage for the ASAA 2A state volleyball tournament at Dimond High School this week. The two teams are staying in the same hotel.

“My biggest concern was my friends,” Hansen said.

After a couple minutes, the four Craig players received a message from head coach Tina Nelson, as did the other Lady Panthers in various hotel rooms, and the entire team met in the downstairs lobby.

Hansen had been through an earthquake before — nearly six years ago in Metlakatla — but for some of her volleyball teammates, this was their first one.

“Some of them were pretty shook up about it,” Hansen said. “It’s good that we were able to comfort each other.”

A rollercoaster ride

Wrangell’s first game on Friday wasn’t scheduled until 2:45 p.m. So head coach Jessica Whitaker had planned on letting her Lady Wolves take their time in the morning.

“The girls were still in bed,” she said. “We were going to let them rest until 10 a.m.”

But everyone was up an hour and a half before that. And everyone stayed safe.

“We’re doing fine,” Whitaker said. “(The hotel) hasn’t suffered any significant damage.”

Several of the girls’ parents who are along on the trip helped get them breakfast, which calmed nerves and eased anxiety. And the team stayed together in the hotel lobby.

Those whose families were still in Wrangell reached out to family members back home.

“The girls were able to call them and send texts,” Whitaker said.

After the initial earthquake, aftershocks began to hit, including three that measured above 5.0 on the Richter scale. And the power went out.

“We were worried about aftershocks,” Hansen said.

One hit while the Craig team was downstairs in the hotel.

Although the hotel sits 200 feet above sea level, when Tsunami Warning sirens began blaring, the Lady Panthers figured it was better to be safe than sorry. So they began heading to higher ground.

They drove to a church at the top of a hill and stayed in the basement for two hours.

“We didn’t feel any (aftershocks) while we were driving,” Hansen said. “But traffic was terrible.”

Needless to say, ASAA postponed Friday’s volleyball’s matches until Saturday.

“Anchorage closed down all of their schools until they’re secure,” Whitaker said.

Schools in Anchorage — at all levels — are closed until at least the middle of next week.

“It was a little scary,” Hansen said. “We’ll be closer together (after going through this).”

Tomorrow’s a new day

Back at the hotel Friday evening, the power was back on. The water still worked.

And on Saturday, the state volleyball tournament will resume.

ASAA will stage matches at Anchorage Christian Schools, in an abbreviated format to make sure the tournament finishes in one day.

And Craig and Wrangell will head back to their trip’s original game plan — winning a state championship. And they will return home on Sunday.

Saturday’s 2A matches will begin at 8 a.m. in a best-of three format, bumped down from a best-of-five. Only the championship match will be played in a best-of-five setting.

Wrangell’s first game is scheduled for 12 p.m. The Lady Wolves will play the winner of the match between Glennallen and Dillingham high schools in the consolation quarterfinal.

For the Lady Wolves, the road for a state title must include a three-game winning streak — in consecutive matches — something Wrangell accomplished during the Region V Small Schools tournament on Nov. 17 in Metlakatla.

And they must win four games in one day to continue on in the double-elimination tournament.

Craig sits in the driver’s seat for its road to a state title. The Lady Panthers’ first game will be at 3 p.m. against Sustina Valley High School in the state semifinal.

Even if Craig drops its game against Sustina Valley, it will have another shot to advance to the championship match.

After squeaking by Glennallen 3-2 in their first match on Thursday, the Lady Panthers defeated Cordova High School 3-1 to advance to the semifinal.

“Mentally, we were all nervous (in our first game against Glennallen),” Hansen said. “It’s been our goal (all season) to be here.”

But the senior leadership of Hansen and Haleigh Ebbighausen helped calm the Lady Panthers’ nerves on the court.

Nearly 24 hours later, they’d be doing the same thing — but in hotel rooms.

After Friday’s emotional rollercoaster, Saturday’s championship game day nerves will “feel like nothing.”

“I think (they will),” Hansen said. “I’ll think we’ll have a better start.”