Non-conference or not, the Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team did not take 3A visitor Petersburg lightly on Wednesday night in the JDHS gym.
The 4A Crimson Bears swept the Vikings in three straight games by scores of 25-15, 25-9 and 25-10.
It took 10 points into game one, however, to stir the Crimson Bears into a rowdy mood.
“The key was synchronizing with the setters and figuring out our rotations,” JDHS senior middle hitter Kayla Balovich said. “We needed to get comfortable with each other and gel.”
Trailing by three points JDHS senior Gracie Meiners put eight straight scoring serves over the net, including one ace. Balovich notched two kills, one block and a tip score in that spree and senior Makayla Pierce blocked another Vikings shot down for a point.
After losing a point the service came back to Juneau and Pierce ran a string of six scoring serves with one ace. Balovich had a hand in the action again with two kills and a tip and sophomore Maddie McKeown had a kill and a block for a 23-11 advantage. After three Vikings points closed the visitors within nine, senior outside hitter Natalie Wade put the game winner over on a crossing shot.
Game two saw Balovich run a string of five points, with two aces and two scoring shots by senior middle hitter Kaitlin Fagerstrom, to open a 9-3 advantage.
Senior Tori Fogg served for three more kills by Meiners and McKeown for a 13-4 lead.
After surrendering a point JDHS gained control again, this time with McKeown at the service line and four scores from Fagerstrom, Meiners and Pierce.
JDHS would close out the game with Pierce serving from 21 to game and McKeown deflecting the winning shot.
JDHS opened leads of 6-1, 9-2 and 19-9 in the final game. Balovich closed out the final five points from the service line with one ace and a tip.
“I felt really comfortable in warm ups,” Balovich said. “I was in a zone. Before every serve I tell myself the serve is going in. I think we are definitely an offensive team. We have a lot of power hitters all through our lineup so I think that is really going to help us going forward.”
Balovich, Meiners and Pierce accounted for 20 possession points from the service line in the final game.
“We tend to get set in expectations of starters and non-starters,” JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said. “The nice thing this year is our depth. We have 10 kids that can play.”
The Crimson Bears broke from traditional player positions, rotating front row players to the back row and middle setting spots.
“Sometimes we will travel with 10 and sometimes eight players,” Knight said. “We have to be able to play all positions and I am willing to play with that some.”
The once steady role on the night was libero Cora Bontrager.
The 5-foot-6 junior designated setter had a perfect service return in the final game, picking up six serves and placing them to front row setters. Bontrager only misplaced two sets, one in each of the first two games, and totaled 18 assists.
“I just love to play back row,” Bontrager said. “Just get every ball in, get it up to the target and make it as easy as possible for Gracie (Meiners) and Tori (Fogg).”
Unofficial score tallies had McKeown with 12 kills, two blocks and four deflections; Balovich six kills and four aces; Pierce six kills, one block and two deflections; Meiners three kills and three aces; Fagerstrom one kill and two tips; Wade one kill and six assists; and Kymber Kelly one kill and two saves.
JDHS will next host the Ketchikan Kings on Friday at 8 p.m. The Kings will also play Thunder Mountain High School at 8 p.m. Thursday at TMHS.