Nikolaevsk takes first in Mixed 6 conference

Claiming first place in the Region II Denali Conference Tournament held in Nikolaevsk last weekend, the Nikolaevsk Mixed 6 team finds itself in new territory.

“The Nikolaevsk kids never lost a set throughout their three tournament matches and they are on their way to their first Mixed 6 state appearance,” said Coach Bea Klaich.

Arctic Village canceled at the last minute, for reasons not related to weather. Seldovia made it on time, in spite of weather, but the Kodiak ESS team — comprised of students from Port Lyon, Ouzinkie, Karluk and Larson Bay — was 26 hours late in arriving due to fog and airplane mechanical problems.  

“Fortunately, the seven kids that came, four girls and three boys, still had a really good team. They gave Seldovia a run for their money and went five sets,” said Klaich. “I was really impressed with their composure. They’d been stacked up, traveling all day, hadn’t eaten, and were hitting the court within 15 minutes of their arrival.”

Losing six graduating seniors at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Klaich said she expected to spend this year rebuilding the team.

“But the kids that played JV last year and became varsity this year really improved a lot. They stepped up and I’m happy they’re peaking right now and doing a great job,” she said.

This year’s team has two seniors: Anthony Yakunin, the main back-row defender, and Nianiella Dorvall, the setter.

“The other boys are looking to (Yakunin) to how to play the game and I think they’ll do well,” said Klaich of the skills Yakunin is helping develop in other players.

“(Dorvall) does a fabulous job. She holds the team together.”

The Nikolaevsk team headed to Dimond High School in Anchorage on Wednesday. With nine teams going into state, Thursday will be “pool play,” with Nikolaevsk, the Southeast team of Gustavus and the Northwest Arctic team of Golovin playing to eliminate one team, with the other two going forward in the tournament’s eight-team bracket.

The championship game will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Of course, it’s our goal to get there, but this is our first trip to state as a Mixed 6 team, so we’re going to have to get our feet wet real fast,” said Klaich.

“I’m pleased with their performance. They’ve had a good season and I think they’ll hold their own pretty well.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

2013 Denali Conference Mixed 6 Tournament

Nikolaevsk School Dec. 5-6

First place team: Nikolaevsk

Second place team: Seldovia

All academic team:

Aidan Philpot, Seldovia

Thor Burt, Seldovia

Olivia Turner, Seldovia

Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk

Chance Haller, Seldovia

Korena Nelson, Kodiak ESS

Devin Chissus, Seldovia

Alexandria Swick, Seldovia

Calem Collier, Seldovia

David Reft, Kodiak ESS

All tournament team (individual):

Damian Melendiz, Kodiak ESS

Kilina Klaich, Nikolaevsk

Anthony Yakunin, Nikolaevsk

Alexandria Swick, Seldovia

Greg Trail, Nikolaevsk

Marina Chissus, Seldovia

Emma Nelson, Kodiak ESS

Jaruby Nelson, Nikolaevsk

Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk

Most valuable players (tie):

Jaruby Nelson, Nikolaevsk

Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk

Sportsmanship team:

Kodiak ESS

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