BACK IN THE TOURNEY: Rams advance to state for sixth straight year

Susitna Valley seniors Kaitlyn Moore, Haley Loper, and Kate Lund played key roles in helping the Rams advance to the 2A state volleyball championships for the sixth straight year. Courtesy photo

By: Jeremiah Bartz – Frontiersman.com (original article)

WASILLA — As he prepared for the 2017 prep volleyball season, longtime Susitna Valley head coach Chad Valentine thought it might be a “growing year,” for the Rams.

But his standout setter, Kiana Schorr, had a different idea.

“At the beginning of the year, she basically had to calm her coach down,” Valentine said by phone earlier this week.

Go out and have fun, and have a good time playing volleyball, was Schorr’s message, Valentine said.

And it didn’t take long for the Rams to find some comfort and confidence on the court, and now the Rams are headed to the 2A state tournament for the sixth straight year.

“We came out in the end better for it,” Valentine said of the Rams, who open against Chevak Thursday at 11:45 a.m. in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank 2A State Volleyball Championships at Dimond High School in Anchorage.

Su Valley topped league rival Unalaska last week at Su Valley to claim the top spot in the Borealis Conference Championships, and grab one of the region’s two berths to the 2A tourney. The Rams actually beat the Raiders twice during the region tournament, avenging Su Valley’s only losses of the year. Su Valley finished the season 12-2, with the two losses coming at Unalaska.

Schorr was named the Borealis Player of the Year and the MVP of the conference tournament.

Long time Su Valley volleyball coach Chad Valentine and junior setter Kiana Schorr following the Borealis Conference championships. Courtesy photo

Valentine said the experience and overall body of work Schorr has put in on the court has allowed her to stand out. She began playing club volleyball as a freshman at Su Valley, alongside a former Rams standout, Ruby Matthews, who is now playing at the collegiate level at Whitman College in Washington.

Schorr finished the regular season with 404 assists, 161 kills and a school-record 154 aces.

Seniors Kate Lund, Haley Loper and Kaitlyn Moore have also been key to Su Valley’s success. Lund, a co-captain, finished with 27 aces and 18 kills during the conference tournament. Lund was also named all-tournament and all-conference.

Loper added 32 kills.

“Haley has consistently improved throughout the season,” Valentine said. “She has become the go-to person on the court.”

Valentine said Loper is sort of an unsung hero. She might not garner as much attention, but touches the ball more than anyone on the team, aside from Schorr.

Moore, who plays on the right side, added 11 aces during the region tournament.

Valentine, in his 30th year with Su Valley volleyball, was named the Borealis Coach of the Year.

Valentine said Su Valley rarely sees teams from Western Alaska, such as Chevak, the first-round opponent. The Rams did fall to Chevak in the second –round last year, but the Chevak had five seniors on that team. He said he does like the top side of the bracket, which Su Valley and Chevak also share with King Cove and Wrangell.

“I think it sets up really well. We’re very happy to be on that side of the bracket,” Valentine said.

The bottom side features Kenny Lake facing Bristol Bay and Petersburg meeting Unalaska.

“Unalaska, Petersburg, Kenny Lake are all strong teams,” Valentine said. “We’re happy to be where we’re at.”

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at [email protected].

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