Juneau-Douglas High School’s Taylor Vidic put up a wall across the volleyball net Saturday night that even a bulldozer would have trouble removing.
The 5-foot, 10-inch junior middle registered a game-high 14 blocks to help the Crimson Bears sweep Ketchikan High School 25-6, 25-5, 25-18 to win the Class 4A Region V volleyball championship and a trip to the state tournament next weekend.
“Blocking is the first line of defense,” Vidic said. “Usually with blocking, if you do miss it your back row will get it. It just makes it easier on everyone if you stop the ball before it crosses the net.”
JDHS let very little cross the net unimpeded. Vidic had six blocks in the first game alone, along with the game’s winning kill shot. Rachel Doogan served from a deficit of 5-6 through to the final shot. In game two she served from 12-3 to 22-5. Jean Cumlat served the final two points, matching kills from Carly Gunnersen.
“To be honest it surprised me as much as everyone else,” Doogan said. “We had a serving competition this morning. Of course I didn’t win but it helped to warm up. I am good at keeping them in bounds but not to a specific zone. Other people are better at that than I am, but I can get it over the net over and over again. I rely a lot on my teammates because my serves are like lollipops and people can get under them and keep passing them until the occasional float throws them off. As long as my team keeps coming up behind me I can keep going.”
Solana Ashe, Chelsea Peterson, and Krista Bontrager began each game on the service line to get the Crimson Bears warmed up. In game three it was Chelsea Peterson’s turn with two jump serves. Gunnersen killed to an 8-2 advantage and Ashe forced a time out by the Kings with two serves at 15-7. The Kings made a run to 21-17 but Gunnersen killed a shot, Vidic blocked a score, and senior Nicole George killed the championship point.
“We have worked a lot on watching the hitter,” Vidic said. “You have to pay attention. You can tell which way someone is going to hit before they hit. You have to keep your eyes on them.”
Gracie Meiners set Peterson for a final point and the Crimson Bears had a region crown.
“This is my first regional title,” Peterson said. “And my first trip to state. I am pretty excited.”
“We will prepare like any other tournament,” Bontager said. “We go hard, just like we did at the Service/Dimond tournament and we did for regions.”
In Friday’s 4A semifinal game against the Kings, Juneau-Douglas won 25-23, 25-21 and 25-15. Peterson’s jump serves and Vidic’s blocks controlled game one. With the Crimson Bears trailing by one point at 20-21, Vidic stuffed down a shot to tie the score and blocked a shot to knot the board again at 23, allowing Doogan to serve out the match.
In game two it was Bontrager who got the ball rolling with two service aces and an outside kill. Bontrager recorded seven aces in the game and Ashe hit six, while Vidic had seven kills. Bontrager killed for point 24 and Gunnersen blocked a shot for game point.
In game three Gunnersen, Bontrager and Vidic proved to be to tall at the net for the Kings. The trio combined for 10 blocks in the game and Doogan, Cumlat, Ashe and Peterson were solid at the service line.
“One thing about blocking, even if you don’t block the hit you are still taking away a part of the court,” Vidic said. “The hitters will be smarter up north. I am not going to get as many blocks but I will still be taking away a part of the court and making it easier on my defense. That’s all you can hope for.”
Krista Bontrager, Carly Gunnersen, and Chelsea Peterson were selected to the 4A all-conference team along with Ketchikan’s Jayley Taylor and Thunder Mountain High School’s Kylie Ibias and Kendra Wittwer. Ketchikan was awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy.