Lynx hope third try is a charm
Noatak High School head coach Tim Nelson feels a lot like former Houston Oilers' head coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips these days. After twice knocking on the state championship door, he's hoping his team is ready to kick the door in.
So is everyone else in northwest Alaska.
"We're having a lot of fun," said Nelson, who has guided the Lynx to the state Mixed-Six volleyball team in three of the past four years. "I think we have a decent chance. There are some good teams going, but we are going to go and do our best."
Noatak, 17-4 for the season, is scheduled to compete in the state Mixed -Six Volleyball Tournament on Dec. 6-8 at Dimond High School in Anchorage. In all, eight teams from throughout the state will participate in the tournament.
According to pre-tournament scheduling by the Alaska Schools Activities Association, Noatak is scheduled to begin the state tournament on Dec. 6 against Akiachak.
The state runner-up a year ago, Noatak will be looking to garner its first state volleyball crown with a roster that has been tested by fire. Seniors Anthony Ashby, Christina Norton and Sarah VanAmburg were all members of the NHS squad that played at the state tournament a year ago, as are fellow starters Ivan Luther and Edward Wesley. The lone newcomers without state tournament experience are freshmen Cori Adams and Eileen Norton, the younger sister of Christina.
Last season, the Lynx cruised into the state finals before falling to Glacier View in the championship game.
Prior to last season, the Lynx had advanced to the state tournament in 2009. That season, Noatak posted a 1-2 mark at the event, but did not place in the final team standings.
Noatak earned its third trip to the state tournament with a solid effort last week at the Northwest Arctic Borough School District regional tournament. The Lynx won the tournament behind a solid effort from Ashby, Norton and VanAmburg, the team's super sub.
Nelson said one key to the Lynx's success over the past four seasons has been the interest and development of the younger players in the the school.
"We have had some success and part of that is because the younger ones are coming out," he said. "The older players usually are the traveling ones, but those younger players have come out and develop their skills. It has been good for the program. That is how we have been able to build the program."