Volleyball teams looking to have their weaknesses pointed out, and exploited, could have found no better place to be Friday and Saturday than the Chugiak Invitational.
With five big schools from Anchorage, including defending state champion Service, and Nikiski in attendance, the players and the coaches had the tools necessary to let teams know what they must work on before opening up region play.
"When you play the big schools, every weakness you have is exploited," Nikiski coach Cherrie Hobart-Verkuilen said after her team finished fifth out of six teams at the invitational. "Those teams have the knowledge and experience to take advantage of weak spots.
"Some of the 3A schools we play can't do that."
In pool play Friday and Saturday, the Bulldogs beat Dimond but lost to East, Bartlett, Service and Chugiak. Then on Saturday, Nikiski topped Bartlett 15-9, 15-6 and 15-9 for fifth place.
Service downed East for the tournament title.
"I was pleased with our team, especially considering we were playing the Anchorage schools," Hobart-Verkuilen said. "Nobody blew us out. The scores were close. They could have went either way."
Senior Laura Berdahl and junior April Lofstedt were named to the all-tournament team for the Bulldogs, but Hobart-Verkuilen thought all of her seniors had good tournaments. Those seniors are Laura-Beth Covich, Ashlee Gillaspie and Jessica Arness.
"I know we're capable of playing a lot better," said Hobart-Verkuilen. "We have to toughen up mentally and work harder on defense.
"We hit as hard as anyone, though. We know that after this weekend."
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