Playing its fourth match of the season, Juneau-Douglas looked polished in rolling to a 25-13, 25-11, 25-13 sweep of a Ketchikan volleyball squad playing for the first time on Friday.
The Crimson Bears (4-0, 3-0) didn’t overwhelm the Kings (0-1, 0-1) with powerful hits, but used steady play with few errors to earn the sweep at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
“That’s something we’ve been practicing, a lot of ball control,” Juneau-Douglas’ Krista Bontrager said. “The coaches prepared us for whatever comes our way.”
The Crimson Bears had at least one long service run in each contest, which proved too much for a Ketchikan team that had a number of big kills but struggled to string points together.
“Nothing special, just keep the ball under control,” JDHS coach Sandi Wagner said of the key to the Bears’ victory. “We had strong passing and consistent serving. That makes a big difference.”
The Kings had 17 unforced errors in the first game and 16 more in the second.
“It was all our stuff, really. We’ve got to get our hits in and we were not getting our serves in,” Ketchikan coach Naomi Michalsen said. “Between missed serves, hitting errors and setting errors we struggled, but those are things we can correct.”
Ketchikan scored the first point in each game and held early leads of 4-2 and 4-1 in the last two sets before faltering.
Juneau-Douglas’ Chelsea Peterson rattled off six straight service points to give her team a 7-1 lead in Game 1. Ketchikan played relatively evenly after that but was never able to regain the early lost ground before succumbing 25-13.
Faith Clark, Tylynn Ward and Jayley Taylor each had decisive kills in the game for the Kings, but Ketchikan was unable to score more than two consecutive points in the loss.
“Ketchikan is a tough serving team and they hit tough. We always expect that out of them,” Wagner said.
After a solid early start in the second game, service runs of five and eight points turned the tide decisively in Juneau-Douglas’ favor in a 25-11 win for the Crimson Bears.
In the final game, JDHS used an early 10-0 service run to take control and finish off the win. Bontrager used a left-handed kill on an overpass by Ketchikan for match point. The Kings had been trying to dig up an initial hit by Bontrager, leading to the overpass, something JDHS was able to take advantage of on a regular basis.
“A few of those I was ready for but the last one, I wasn’t really,” Bontrager said. “I’m not normally left-handed.”
Freshman Shery Bongot, playing in the libero defensive-specialist position, had a solid night for the Kings. Taylor and Ward had their moments hitting, and Bayley Lindgren had a couple of big hits late in the third game.
“It was nice to see her come alive late,” Michalsen said. “We had some people on and others struggling. We need to put it all together. Some of our young players are catching on pretty quickly, but we don’t have the chemistry. We have lots of room to improve, but I’m hopeful.”
Bears cruise again Saturday
Juneau-Douglas refused to allow Ketchikan to get any positive momentum flowing, snuffing out a brief spark of life by the Kings early in the second game before rolling to a 25-14, 25-13, 25-11 sweep on Saturday at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
Early in the second game, for the first time all season, the Ketchikan volleyball team got a little momentum going, holding an 8-7 advantage. Then everything quickly fell apart and the Crimson Bears rattled off a 13-1 run.
The Kings were outscored 18-5 to end the second game, then fell behind 24-5 in the third before staving off match point for awhile with a six-point rally. Davis served during the rally with the Kings taking advantage of three Juneau-Douglas errors, a double block by Mary Keehl and Jayley Taylor and a kill by Taylor before JDHS finally finished the match off when a Taylor hit went into the net.
“We just play our game. It doesn’t matter what is going on on the other side of the net,” Juneau-Douglas senior middle hitter Taylor Vidic said. “We try to stay focused every game.”
Vidic was impressive during the Crimson Bears’ dominant run to finish the second game and quick start in Game 3. She had four solo blocks and four kills in that span as the Bears took control.
“I always feel good but some days, you are just on,” Vidic said. “Tonight was one of those nights. It’s also really helpful to get good passes.”
Ketchikan again struggled with its passing and looked unorganized. On one play, three Kings moved to the same spot, attempting to set the ball, and there were several times that players ran into each other. In the third game, play was halted twice when the Kings were in the wrong service rotation. The second break working to figure out the correct rotation with the officials lasted nearly 10 minutes, leaving Juneau-Douglas coach Sandi Wagner exasperated.
“The long delay made it difficult to stay in the game, but they did a good job,” Wagner said. “Playing in front of a rowdy crowd is also something the kids haven’t done much of before.”
Juneau-Douglas improved to 5-0 on the season, but hasn’t been challenged yet by Southeast competition. The Crimson Bears head to Washington for a couple of matches and a tournament in the Seattle area next week.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Vidic said. “Since we’ve only played in Alaska, we’re not sure how we will compare.”
“We have a whole long list of things to work on,” Wagner added. “Our blocking needs some help, but our defensive position was better today than it has been. I have no idea really what to expect (in Washington).”
Ketchikan plays at Thunder Mountain next weekend.
“We did a better job of serving today, but we weren’t able to run our offense,” Ketchikan coach Naomi Michalsen said. “Bayley Lindgren had a really good night for us. The setters were working hard, but we need to work some on our set choices, to be mindful of who you are setting to and who is on the other side of the net.”
The Kings are slowly settling into a more established rotation, but the process of getting to a regular lineup has left the team chemistry a bit shaky and some players feeling discombobulated with where they are at. The team is hoping continued practice with a set lineup will lend itself to stronger play.
“We just need to be more consistent, and a lot of practice,” Michalsen said. “We’re trying to keep people in the same positions.”
• Ketchikan Sports Editor Richard Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org