FAIRBANKS—The Lathrop Malemutes put it all together at the right time Friday night in the Mid Alaska Conference volleyball tournament.
The Malemutes, who finished third in the three-team conference, downed the North Pole Patriots 26-24, 25-15, 25-13 in the opening game of the tournament at West Valley High School.
The win propels the Malemutes into today’s 3 p.m. game against the regular season champion and tournament host West Valley Wolfpack.
“We came out with confidence,” and ecstatic Lathrop coach Joe Donoghue said. “Our setter Abbi Walker was confident and her setting allowed out hitters to be aggressive.”
Walker finished the match with 19 assists and served for six points, including an ace.
Christine Angell served for 11 points, including five aces, knocked down three kills and registered 12 digs. Ruthie Hebard led the Malemutes with eight kills, while Mikayla Triplehorn registered five.
“Hands down, that was the best Lathrop has played all season,” North Pole coach Tina Ferringer said. “They were ready to play and on fire.”
Ferringer said the Patriots became tentative after the first said.
“I thought we played great in the first game, then nerves started to kick in,” Ferringer said. “They kept attacking and we made some unforced errors in the second and third games.”
Amanda Styers had seven kills, a .462 attack percentage, and a 2.24 out of 3 serve receive passing ratio.
Kayla Ching added 10 kills and a .530 attack percentage and libero Kelly Musgraves had 21 digs.
Donoghue credited his back row defense with limiting the Patriots offensive attack. In addition to Angell, Emily Krier led the Malemutes with 14 digs and Yvonne Sam had 11.
“The back row did a great job tonight and we were able to take the corners away from Kayla Ching,” Donoghue said.
Now the Malemutes must prepare for the Wolfpack, with the winner heading to the Class 4A state tournament in Waslila.
“We have to carry our focus forward,” Donoghue said. “We have to come out strong and be ready to go.”
Friday’s match was the last one for North Pole seniors Hannah Sponseller and Ashlynn Mulcare.
“They had great leadership this season and really helped us grow as a team,” Ferringer said. “We will miss them next year.”
Contact the News-Miner sports department at *459-7581.