Four high school volleyball teams got in some warm-up action Thursday night before this weekend’s 10-team West Valley Invitational, with Lathrop recording its first win of the season at home against Barrow and North Pole falling in five sets to Palmer at home.
Lathrop took a 25-17, 21-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12 win over the Whalers, led by 20 kills, three digs and eight aces from Harmony Ka’atui and 14 kills, three digs and six aces from TT Tagovailoa.
“Our girls fought hard, but they were making some mistakes with serving and blocking and just calling it when it’s out,” Malemutes first-year head coach Romaine Talo said about the second set loss after the game.
“And the third ... just simple mistakes. Our girls were doing the same thing and just not communicating, but we came out strong on the fourth and fifth.
“Seeing (the team) one game at a time trying to progress and show off their skills and what they have to give, as a coach I couldn’t ask for any more and it’s such an awesome feeling.”
Lathrop was coming off a five-set loss at Eielson in a nonconference match Aug. 29.
Eielson, of the Class 3A Aurora Conference, won 29-27 in the first set and 25-21 in the second set. Lathrop registered 25-21 wins in the third and fourth sets before Eielson won 16-14 in the fifth set.
La’atui led the Malemutes and the match with 23 kills and 12 total blocks, and she served 10 points. Jenna Sager provided 14 kills, eight blocks and seven serves.
Koretta Mua’i-Talo had a team-best 21 digs to go with 10 kills and 13 serves. Kelli Fitzgerald contributed 12 digs, while Emma Rubin added nine kills, six digs and six serves.
Tagovailoa made eight serves and chipped in seven kills, and Kaylee Findlay finished with six kills and four blocks.
North Pole, coming off an undefeated run in the Bethel Tournament, came back in the third and fourth sets to force a fifth Thursday, but ultimately lost to the Moose 25-21, 27-25, 16-25, 20-25, 15-9.
“We started slow, as you can tell by the score, but then our wheels started working and they played with their dominating force — well balanced defense and offense,” Patriots head coach Rick Swankie said over the phone after the game.
“But then, in that final part of that last game, they kind of fell off. ... (Palmer) pretty much just waited for us to make errors.”
Setter Ainsley Smith contributed 11 assists, six aces, four kills and two blocks in Thursday’s matchup. Kinley Erickson led the team in kills with eight and also added two aces. Laura Donovan led the team on defense with six digs and also helped on offense with four aces and three kills.
The Delta Junction Huskies, aided by two blocks from Jersey Glass and two aces each from Alyssa Hooton and Jocelyn Williams, beat the Grace Christian Grizzlies 25-20, 25-10, 25-20 in a nonconference Class 3A volleyball match Thursday in Anchorage.
Palmer, North Pole, Barrow and Lathrop play this weekend at the West Valley Tournament. Bartlett, Hutchison, Monroe, South Anchorage, Valdez and West Valley also will take part.
The tournament begins today with pool play. Each team will play one set against every team. On Saturday, the top five teams advance to the gold bracket, and the remaining teams play in the red bracket.
The Huskies head to Seward High School for the North/South Classic today and Saturday.
Delta Junction has round-robin matches today against Houston (12:30 p.m.); Nome (1:30 p.m.); Seward (3:30 p.m.); Homer (5 p.m.); Redington (7 p.m.); and Anchorage Christian School (8:30 p.m.).
West Valley and Monroe Catholic came away with wins over North Pole and Hutchison, respectively, on Thursday at the Dan Ramras Community Tennis Courts.
The Wolf Pack took a 5-2 win over the Patriots with wins in all matches but the girls No. 1 and No. 2 singles competitions.
Axton Siekman won the boys singles match with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Luke Roehrig. Kade Rowland took the boys No. 2 point with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Bryce Wyman. Cole Neal and Fin Ludwig completed the Wolf Pack boys sweep with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Austin Darby and Joel Denham.
Jordan Dick and Morgan Ely added another point to the Wolf Pack total with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Amber Steward and Grace Sikorki in the girls doubles competition. Aidan Payah and Samantha Stark secured the last West Valley point with a three-set win ending in a 7-5 tie break against Caleb Roehrig and Nicole Knudson.
Paige Stapp’s 6-1, 6-4 win over Reaghan Dick in girls No. 1 singles and Sarah Beaver’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over Maddie Wills in girls No. 2 singles were the Patriot’s only points Thursday.
Monroe and Hutchison split their matches 3-3, but a default win in the boys doubles competition gave the Rams a 4-3 win.
Jean Cook contributed two points for the Rams with a 6-4, 6-4 win in No.1 girls singles over Katy Kotche and a 6-4, 5-6, 7-3 win with girls doubles partner Erin Hendricks to beat Ana Brosnan and Karilyn Blanchard. Hendricks also secured a win for the Rams with mixed doubles partner Oliver Pender to beat Sofia Squires and Isaiah Moore 6-5, 6-2.
All three points for the Hawks came in singles competitions. Isaiah Moore took a 4-6, 6-2, 7-2 win in the No.1 boys spot to beat Monroe’s Miles Fowler. Cooper Irinaga added another point to the Hawks tally with a 6-5, 6-0 win against. Ashley Bennett recorded the last Hawks point in the No. 2 singles with 6-3, 6-5 win over Emma Bradshaw.
Monroe, Hutchison and North Pole return to dual action Tuesday, after this weekend’s Anchorage Invitational. Monroe will face off against Lathrop at the DRCTC, with the first serve set for 3 p.m. Hutchison will play the Patriots at 5 p.m. at North Pole High School.
West Valley plays its next dual match at 5 p.m. Thursday against the Rams at the DRCTC.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.