FAIRBANKS — The West Valley Wolfpack, the Monroe Catholic Rams and the 14 other schools entered in the Class 3A and 4A state volleyball tournaments find themselves in an entirely different situation this year.
Instead of playing a single-elimination tournament format with a consolation bracket for opening day losers, this year’s ASAA First National Bank Alaska State Championships in Wasilla will be a double-elimination tournament.
“One thing I do like about the format is if you are one of the better teams you can afford to have a hiccup and still have a chance to win,” Monroe Catholic coach Mike Lessley said Monday evening. “With this format, supposedly the better team will win.”
West Valley coach Dave Cox echoed Lessley’s thoughts.
“I think it will be better for us, because usually it takes us a couple of sets to get warmed up,” Cox said. “Before, we just played one game a day and if we lost we were in consolation. Now, we’ve got a chance to claw our way back.”
There is one variation to the championship format. If a second game is needed to determine the champion, it will be one set to 30 points.
Class 4A tournament
West Valley and Lathrop both have early starts when the tournaments get under way Thursday morning.
Mid Alaska Conference champion West Valley opens the 4A tournament at 10 a.m. against the East Anchorage Thunderbirds, the third seed from Anchorage’s Cook Inlet Conference.
Filling out the bracket, Northern Lights Conference champion Soldotna goes up against Cook Inlet Conference runner-up South Anchorage at 11:45 a.m.
If West Valley wins Thursday morning, it will play the winner of the Soldotna-South Anchorage match at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
A loss Thursday morning would put the Wolfpack in a losers’ bracket match against either Soldotna or South at 11 a.m. Friday.
“I think we have a shot, but we’re going to have to play clean volleyball to do it,” Cox said of his young Wolfpack team which is comprised mostly of sophomores. “We lost to them at the Dimond/Service tournament two weeks ago and we didn’t play well. If we play crisper, we’ll have a chance.”
The top half of the bracket, Southeast Conference champion Juneau-Douglas plays North Light Conference third seed Kodiak at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Cook Inlet Conference champion Dimond plays Northern Lights runner-up Palmer at 3:15 p.m.
The winners play at 7 p.m. Thursday, while the losers meet at 1 p.m. Friday.
The tournament continues through Saturday with the championship match set for 6 p.m. and the “if” game scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
Class 3A tournament
Monroe Catholic, the No. 2 seed from the Aurora Conference, faces Western Conference champion Nome at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, followed by the match between defending state champion and Southeast Conference champion Mt. Edgecumbe and Southcentral Conference runner-up Nikiski at 10 a.m.
Winners meet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday and the losers play at 11 a.m. Friday.
“We haven’t seen Nome this year, so I don’t know anything about them,” Lessley said.
“Mt. Edgecumbe is the defending champion and has two strong hitters and has been playing well,” Lessley added. “I know Nikiski and Skyview both have solid teams and Valdez is obviously a strong team from our conference.”
On the upper side of the bracket, Aurora Conference champion Valdez battles Western Conference runner-up Barrow at 1:30 p.m. and Southcentral Conference champion Skyview takes on Southcentral No. 3 Grace Christian at 3:15 p.m.
Winners play at 7 p.m. Thursday, while losers battle at 1 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is slated for
3 p.m. Saturday, with a potential “if” game at 4:45 p.m.