After getting stunned by Craig in the winners’ bracket final earlier on Friday, top-seeded Wrangell stormed back to claim the Region V, 2A volleyball title in Klawock.
After their midday loss to the Panthers, the Wrangell Wolves swept Metlakatla in the losers’ bracket final, and then swept the Panthers in the first championship matchup before claiming the tie-breaker against Craig in convincing fashion to earn the title Friday evening.
“Craig is pretty senior heavy and very experienced and I think we really learned from (that loss),” Wrangell coach Alyssa Allen said. “We came out a lot stronger (in the championship). I think we were just more focused and had better energy. We had better communication and hustle.”
After sweeping Craig 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 in the championship matchup, a tie-breaking game up to 30 points was used to decide the region winner.
Wrangell rolled to a 27-10 lead, then fought off a valiant Panthers comeback to earn a 30-23 win. Craig senior Shayla Swetzof served for nine consecutive points, most of them aces, to cut the lead to 27-19. Craig moved to within 29-23 before Wrangell senior middle hitter Kiara Harrison hammered home the final point with one of her patented big-swinging hits that was virtually untouchable.
“We just knew we had to get her a good pass, get her the ball and have her put it away,” Allen said.
Both Wrangell and Craig will advance to the 2A state tournament in Anchorage next weekend.
In a well-played match earlier Friday afternoon, Craig prevailed over Wrangell 21-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-23 in the winners’ bracket final.
The game was moved from Klawock and was played about an hour after originally scheduled because of condensation issues with the roof at the Klawock gymnasium. The remaining matches of the day were played back in Klawock.
After the teams split the first two games of the match, Craig took control midway through Game 3. The Panthers used a five-point service run by Alexis Lawnicki to build a 13-8 lead and they led 18-13 before Wrangell came storming back.
Kiara Harrison led the Wolves attack with three kills and a block for a point as Wrangell battled back to tie the game at 18-18.
On the tying point, both teams had a number of impressive scrambling defensive plays during a long rally before Harrison hammered home an emphatic hit that appeared to give Wrangell all the momentum.
Craig was unfazed, however, bouncing back to regain the lead 22-19.
After a couple sideouts, Craig used another crafty play from Alyssa Diergen, who dumped the ball into an empty space, to give them the game point. Wrangell got the ball back on a side out to serve trailing 24-23 before a misplayed ball gave Craig the game.
The match looked like it could be headed to a fifth-set tie-breaker, but Craig rallied late in Game 4 to knock off the Wolves.
Craig trailed 20-17 late in the fourth game before rallying to tie the contest 20-20 behind the serving of Lawnicki and kills from Amiaya Hansen and McKenna Taylor.
After Wrangell moved back ahead 23-21, Craig scored the final four points to finish off the game and the match.
Hansen served for the final four points and Diergen found soft spots in the Wrangell defense to tip the ball for a couple points as Craig advanced to the championship game.
In losers’ bracket action on Friday, Metlakatla outlasted Klawock in a thrilling five-set match before getting swept by Wrangell.
Metlakatla fought back from a 2-1 game deficit to earn a 25-19, 19-25, 22-25, 25-14, 15-12 victory over Klawock in an elimination game earlier on Friday.
After a tough loss in the third game put them on the brink of elimination, Metlakatla stormed back to post an impressive win in Game 4 and then jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the deciding fifth set before holding on for the victory.
Ryley Booth had four ace serves for the MissChiefs in the opening six-point run, but Klawock fought back and eventually cut the lead to 9-8 with a handful of ace serves of its own, including serves by Aaliyah Kato and Ashlyn Anderson that ticked the top of the net and dribbled over.
Booth got the match back on track for the MissChiefs with a couple of big kills and finished it off with a dump to an open spot in the court.
“Ryley Booth is our all-conference player and she is our strongest server,” Metlakatla coach Christina Martinez said. “She is a phenomenal player for us, and great on and off the court. She is a solid athlete and just a good person in general.”
Klawock setter Holien McKinley rolled her ankle in the middle of the third game going to set the ball. She came out for awhile and was treated on the sideline, but returned to the court, although moving a little gingerly.
Wrangell then cruised to a three-set win over Metlakatla in the losers’ bracket final.
Metlakatla entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and finished third.
“I’m really proud of them,” Martinez said. “We have a very young team and we came in and played strong. We always want to keep our community in mind and play for the people, and I’m really proud of how they did.”