PALMER — The flu has ripped through the Wasilla Warriors volleyball team during the last week. And to add insult to illness, the Warriors fell to rival Palmer Tuesday on their senior night.
Even though they continue to battle the bug, the Warriors found a way to earn a big win on their foe’s floor. Wasilla rallied to a 3-2 win over Colony Friday night at Colony High School.
“Everyone is still half-sick,” Wasilla head coach Katie Oxspring said after the win.
Oxspring said only two of her players have avoided the illness, and the Warriors have been doing everything they can to get healthy.
“They did the right things, stayed home,” Oxspring said.
The silver lining, Oxspring said, it happened now, a week ahead of the region tournament.
The Warriors also overcame a slow start in the match. Colony jumped to a lead, taking the first two sets and held an early advantage in Game 3. But the Warriors found a way to stay alive and force a fifth game.
“So proud,” Oxspring said. “Our team has all the potential in the world.”
Oxspring said the Warriors have shown a tendency to let little things bring them down. But that wasn’t the case during the final three sets Friday, the Wasilla head coach said.
“Typically we wouldn’t have been able to pull ourselves out of that, but it shows a lot that we were finally able to pull ourselves out of that,” Oxspring said.
Wasilla jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth game, and led by five at four different points in the set before Colony put together a run. The Knights used a 7-3 run to cut Wasilla’s advantage to 11-10 in the fifth. Oxspring said she simply tried to be her players’ biggest cheerleader during the decisive game.
“Good or bad, I found the good in every play whether we won the point or not,” Oxspring said.
Wasilla capped the game on a 4-1 run. Oxspring said she was impressed by her team’s mental toughness.
“Just them wanting it, and giving it their all,” Oxspring said.
Josi Schachle led the Warriors with 14 kills and 17 digs in the match. Jada Schultz also chipped in 14 kills. Emily Cizek added a team-best 24 digs. Wasilla improved to 5-3 in Northern Lights Conference play with the win.
Colony dropped in 6-2 with the loss. But despite the defeat, the Knights will enter the NLC tourney as the top seed. Led by the hitting of seniors Bella Brown and Sam Bryant, the Knights scored wins during the first two sets. Colony trailed 22-20 late in the second game, but Bryant used three kills to help her team push ahead. Brown ripped a hit to tie the score at 23, and Halle Yundt tucked a ball just inside the sideline to tie the score at 24 in the second game.
The NLC tournament starts Thursday in Soldotna. Colony is the top seed at 6-1, and both Wasilla and Soldotna are tied at 5-3. Palmer will be the fourth seed at 4-4, and Kodiak will be seeded fifth at 0-8. Oxspring said there is a tremendous amount of parity in the league.
“It’s who is going to decide to show up that day,” Oxspring said.
The bracket is expected to be released Monday.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.