By McKibben Jackinsky
With a first-place finish in the 2013 Denali Conference Mixed 6 Tournament Dec. 5-6, the Nikolaevsk Warriors got their first shot at the state title at the championships Dec. 12-14. They did themselves and Coach Bea Klaich proud at the games played at Dimond High in Anchorage, coming home with fourth place, the title of “best sportsmanship” team and with two players named to the all-tournament team.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” said Klaich. “They did well and finished strong and we’re looking forward to coming back next year.”
With nine teams invited to the eight-bracket championship, Dec. 12 was spent battling through elimination play. At the end of the day, Nikolaevsk was seeded seventh.
Friday brought a disappointing 3-0 loss to Noatak, however.
“It was a single elimination, so the best we could do was fourth,” said Klaich of the impact of losing that game.
On Saturday, the Nikolaevsk team claimed their “warrior” strength in a rematch against Gustavus. On Thursday, Nikolaevsk and Gustavus had tied 1-1.
“We were ready for them. There was no messing around,” said Klaich.
A 3-1 victory put Nikolaevsk in their final match for the tournament, facing Tanalian for fourth place.
“We’d played them during the season so that gave us an advantage a little bit. The kids knew they could beat them,” said Klaich.
The Warriors took the first two sets, but the Tanalian team wasn’t ready to give up the fight.
“They came back pretty tough the third set,” said Klaich. “I said, ‘You know, guys, we have to get focused and finish this off. In volleyball, you just can’t relax.’ So they came back and won strong.”
The final score that secured a fourth-place win was 3-1 in Nikolaevsk’s favor.
Adding to the honors, seniors Anthony Yakunin and Nianiella Dorvall were named to the all-tournament team and the Nikolaevsk Warriors were crowned the team with the best sportsmanship.
Up next for Nikolaevsk is basketball at the Cook Inlet Classic beginning today.
“Are we prepared? Well, we’ll find out,” said Klaich, who does double-duty coaching Nikolaevsk’s girls basketball. Her husband, Steve, coaches the boys team.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nikolaevsk Warriors Mixed 6 Volleyball
Nianiella Dorvall, captain
Anthony Yakunin, captain
Coach: Bea Klaich
Manager: Nadejda Gordeev