By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
The Mt. Edgecumbe High Lady Braves will get a chance to defend their state volleyball title after winning the regional tournament at Petersburg this past weekend.
Mt. Edgecumbe defeated Sitka and Petersburg in straight sets.
Sitka started the weekend by defeating Petersburg in four sets, 25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 25-19.
“The girls, in the first match with Petersburg, were certainly on fire and playing really the best I’ve seen them play all season,” Rob Suarez, Sitka head coach, said.
Mt. Edgecumbe was the top seed in the tournament and played the winner of that game. Subsequently the Lady Braves beat Sitka 25-14, 25-11, 25-16.
“Against Edgecumbe, they were solid, but the strength of Edgecumbe is pretty evident. They’re easily a favorite for winning the state title in 3A,” Suarez said.
When the Lady Wolves played Petersburg for a second time they fell in five sets, losing the fifth set tie breaker 15-9.
The Lady Wolves, Suarez said, were in an early hole but regrouped in the third and fourth sets to force a fifth set against the Lady Vikings.
“Stefania (Potrzuski) had an outstanding game four,” Suarez said. “I think she had 11 kills on 19 swings in that game alone.”
Suarez said the Lady Wolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker set but then gave up seven straight points.
“At that point we started to chip away, but with a game that only goes to 15 it’s hard to get that momentum back in time,” Suarez said.
“The girls played well,” Suarez said. “I’m super proud of them and the season they had and I think they definitely reached and surpassed a lot of expectations.”
In the championship between Petersburg and Mt. Edgecumbe, the Lady Braves again rolled to victory winning 25-6, 25-13 and 25-9.
Mt. Edgecumbe head coach Rich Calkins said the Lady Braves are locked in for the end of the season.
“We played very focused this weekend. I think the girls realize that it’s that time of the year,” Calkins said.
Mt. Edgecumbe will compete in the state tournament in Wasilla beginning on Thursday. The Lady Braves will open the tournament against Nikiski on Thursday morning.
Mt. Edgecumbe went 28-1 for the season with a loss to Dimond High School, and has accomplished two of the team goals they set at the beginning of the season.
“We always want to be the number one seed at regionals, we want to win regionals, and then we want to win state,” Calkins said. “And the girls know how far they’ve come and how much farther they have to go.”
This was the sixth straight regional championship for the Lady Braves, who will likely see Grace Christian High School again at the state tournament. Grace Christian and Mt. Edgecumbe have met in the state finals twice already and, while hosting Grace Christian earlier this year, the Lady Braves won two of three. The match they lost was a three-set endowment match that didn’t count against Mt. Edgecumbe’s record.
Calkins said the team that played those matches earlier this season is not the same one that will be wearing Cardinal and Gold in Wasilla this weekend.
“We’re really pleased and proud of all the work we put in this season. This isn’t even reasonably the same team that stepped on the court two months ago,” Calkins said. “All the success that the girls are getting is aptly earned.”
To continue that success, and to achieve their goal of another 3A state title, Mt. Edgecumbe will have to first get past their openin g match against Nikiski at 10 a.m. Thursday.