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Dillingham Volleyball played out state championships following Anchorage earthquake

Courtesy of Dillingham Varsity Volleyball

Dillingham may be more than 300 miles away from Anchorage, but the impacts of Friday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake were still felt by many in the region.

On Friday morning, the Dillingham volleyball team was warming up in the Dimond High School gym for the second day of the state championships in Anchorage. The team was scheduled to play at 9 a.m. Dillingham City School District Athletic Director Karl Clark was on his way to the school when the ground started shaking.

“About 8:29 a.m. I was downstairs in my hotel room heading to the volleyball game. I was about five minutes away. I heard a big rumble – it sounded like a train was coming. Then all of a sudden, the ground started moving. Coach Kristin Smeaton said it started low. She said it was like you were standing on jello and somebody hit the jello. It was… the ground was moving like it was water,” Clark said. 

The earthquake hit as the team was warming up in the gym before the game. Coach Kristin Smeaton said that when it began, they didn't realize what was happening.

"It kind of just sounded like a bunch of stomping. We actually thought that Glennallen was running on the track [in the gym]," Smeaton said. "Then it started getting louder and louder and we realized it's an earthquake. The bleachers were shaking, the whole ceiling was shaking. They had their basketball hoops lifted up, the basketball hoops were shaking."

After the quake was over, the teams evacuated the building. 

"The girls were in their uniforms and it was like 20 degrees outside. So we actually got sent back into the building to grab all of our stuff," Smeaton explained. "We ran into the gym, grabbed all our bags. The girls were getting their sweatpants on, their sweaters on, and then the aftershock happened. We piled them all up against the wall, and a couple of them were in doorways. We sat out the aftershock there, and as soon as that happened, we just ran back outside."

Following the earthquake, the Anchorage School District closed the city’s public schools. Anchorage Christian Schools was able to host the tournament’s remaining games on Saturday. The Alaska School Activities Association reworked the schedule and changed many five-set matches to three-set matches so that the championship could end on time.

Dillingham lost to the Glennallen Panthers in a best-of-three-sets match on Saturday; the final scores were 24-26 and 17-25. The Panthers went on to win the state title.

Contact the author at or 907-842-2200.

Editor's note: This article originally included a paragraph regarding the BBNC office building in Anchorage. That information can now be found here.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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