The Wasilla Warriors’ win streak continued in dominant fashion on Friday night with a quick sweep over the East Thunderbirds to earn their spot in Saturday’s class 4A state championship match.
Wasilla’s powerful attackers led the way through the 25-14, 25-10, 25-18 victory, commanding the court with little room for East to respond and pushing its winning streak to 14.
Middle Rylee Pitney’s performance stood out through the whole match. She smashed five kills in the first set, four of those in two consecutive four-point drives for the Warriors.
The team’s strong offense continued with a six-point streak near the end of the first set, highlighted by three kills from junior Allison Devine. Middle Layla Hays pitched in with four kills throughout the set, including the final two points.
Pitney started off the second set strong again with three kills in the first five points, soon followed by two kills from Devine. East fought back, landing a three-point streak led by kills from outside hitters Mariaha Afuvai and Lajirah Boma to make it 8-6.
But Wasilla soon grounded the T-birds, securing a 11-point streak sealed by a swift block and kill from Hays. The set’s closing minutes were strengthened by two more kills from Pitney.
ASAA/First National Bank Alaska
Class 4A Volleyball State Championships
At Alaska Airlines Center
Wasilla 3, East 0
Dimond 3, Thunder Mountain 1
Soldotna 3, West Valley 1
Dimond 3, Service 2
South 3, Soldotna 0
Dimond 3, South 0
12pm East vs. Dimond
5pm Wasilla vs. East/Dimond winner
East found its offensive footing in the third set with an early 4-1 lead, boosted by kills from middle blocker Evelyn Whitson and Boma, who led the T-birds in the third with three kills and an ace. The two teams traded points, both seeing four-point streaks through the middle of the set, until Wasilla worked up six points in a row for a 20-14 lead.
A last-chance effort from East brought them within four points of the Warriors at 18-22, but two one-handed dumps over the net by Hays helped Wasilla seal the sweep.
Wasilla coach Katie Oxspring said her team will treat tomorrow’s championship match like a blank slate.
“It’s just another game where we want to show up and just compete and play our best game,” she said. “They’ve worked all season long with this goal in mind. And they didn’t forget about the goal, but they worked really hard at everything they were doing, not taking anything for granted. So it means a lot just to even be in a position where we get to be there.”
Making its way into the consolation bracket, East will now face a familiar foe, the Dimond Lynx, at noon tomorrow to determine who will take on Wasilla in the championship match.
The class 4A final starts at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Alaska Airlines Center.
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