The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears and Thunder Mountain Falcons are seeking the 4A Region V volleyball championship beginning today in Petersburg.
The Falcons open with Ketchikan at 2 p.m. and the Crimson Bears will play the winner at 6 p.m. The tournament is a double elimination format. The loser of the 2 and 6 p.m. games play Saturday morning to reach the championship game. It the final game results in a first loss, than an if-needed game to 30 points is played to determine the Region V Champion.
“It is always fun and exciting to be here,” JDHS coach Leslie Knight said. “Especially with all the other teams and knowing that anything can happen.”
JDHS has the upper hand, as it has not surrendered a match to its large school Southeastern Conference foes TMHS and Ketchikan all season.
The Crimson Bears have stumbled in a game or two but feature superior attacking at the net and an overall service advantage. The team has focused on consistency and passing in the last week and keeping the ball in play.
“There is always opportunity for the underdogs to rise at regions,” Knight said. “We are not overlooking anyone. We had a good practice today (Thursday) in Petersburg and we are hopefully walking into this with confidence. We are hoping Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain wear each other out in the opening game. We are definitely not taking any team for granted.”
Senior Chelsea Peterson continues to be the class of southeast. The University of Alaska Anchorage signee has become a force from the serving line and in the kill zone. Senior Rachel Doogan is the offensive quarterback and touches the ball in every possession. Classmates Sally Paul and Amberli Fitka are providing quality middle defense and service time.
The Crimson Bears front has been strong enough for region play as freshman Maddie McKeown and juniors Brandi Hall and Kaitlin Fagerstrom and sophomore Cora Bontrager can challenge at the net. The strength, however, is the killing shots of Peterson, and juniors Gracie Meiners and Kayla Balovich.
The Falcons have risen in four years to being conference challenger, over taking Kayhi, but not overlooking them and threatening JDHS but not quite rendering them helpless.
While not as dominating from the service line, the Falcons do possess the net defense that causes problems for both the Crimson Bears and the Kings.
Senior Michelle Manning and junior Makayla Pierce are a strong blocking duo and Claire White is an able backup.
Junior Jenna Luhrs has mastered a powerful kill shot and senior Kylie Ibias has found a scoring touch this season. Seniors Darbee Hickok, Kendra Wittwer and Natalie Montez are ready to advance the program to state and junior Katrina Greenleif and sophomore Danielle Steinman have proven to be a part of that focus.
Ketchikan features a potent serving attack and quality mid-court defense, yet even on their home court they could not stop JDHS. Seniors Faith Clark and Tylynn Ward are two top southeast servers and junior Jayley Taylor is one of the regions most athletic net players.
“I personally know that anything can happen at regions,” Knight said. “Both teams have had close games with us. All it takes is an off game or off night, so anything can happen.”
The 3A portion of the tournament features Mt. Edgecumbe, Sitka and host Petersburg. The Lady Braves have been the power of southeast, both in their medium size school play and against the larger 4A squads.
Only one team from the 4A and 3A tournaments can advance to next weekend’s state tournament in Anchorage.