The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team stepped up as a team to win the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza this weekend at the JD gym.
Playing without seniors Kayla Balovich (knee) and Makayla Pierce (ankle), the Crimson Bears rallied around a stable floor attack to stop the Colony Knights in the JIVE championship game 23-25, 25-16 and 25-12 on Saturday night.
“This year our whole focus has been about being more balanced,” Juneau-Douglas coach Lesslie Knight said. “We did go to Gracie Meiners a lot in critical situations but our other hitters are playing a bigger role.”
Meiners led JDHS with 12 kills and 2 aces in the match.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Meiners said. “I am really proud of how our team did. I think we played well together. Colony is a really good team and great competitors. We just came together as a team. Our passing was on, our setting was on and our hits were pretty good.”
Colony turned a Game 1 lead of 10-6 lead into a 17-6 advantage behind Junior Greta Jenkins string of seven serves and kills from the Knights front line of senior Brooke Nezaticky and junior Sophie Hall.
JDHS’ Natalie Wade picked up two solid blocks and a string of five serves to keep the Crimson Bears in the contest.
“I just thought I had to be more aggressive tonight,” Wade said. “People have been telling me that for a long time and I finally understood. I think this win was an accomplishment. We are definitely a new team.”
Wade served the Crimson Bears well again, getting point 20 before the Knights scored their 24. McKeown blocked for point 22 and Meiners killed point 23 but the Knights junior Ashley Turcotte hit the game winner.
The Crimson Bears opened a 12-2 run in Game 2 behind Cora Bontrager’s six serves that included kills by Kaitlin Fagerstrom, McKeown and Meiners.
McKeown began dominant net play with two of her five game blocks and one of her five game kills to help the Crimson Bears close out the game 25-16.
“I was watching them in their match before and I just tried to read them as best I could,” McKeown said. “I just tried to key on where their middle hitter set up. I just feel like I need to push myself every game.”
Wade, Jasmine Brown, Kaitline Fagerstrom, Kymber Kelly and McKeown are being relied upon to attack the net, especially without the services of Kayla Balovich (lost for the season with a torn ACL) and Makayla Pierce (ankle sprain).
“We are hoping that they are peaking at the right time of the year,” Knight said. “Our kids are doing great. Pierce will be back on Tuesday and we didn’t want to rush anything.”
Meiners led off Game 3 with a service ace after Colony game up the ball and blocks from Kelly, McKeown and Wade with kills by Fagerstrom and Brown inched the Crimson Bears to an 8-6 advantage. Senior Tori Fogg served seven straight scores with four kills by Fagerstrom (8 match kills) to take momentum and the Crimson Bears won the match 25-12 on a Knights’ service error.
“Juneau played very consistently all match,” Colony coach Amy Carter said. “They are a very good team. We were not as consistent but it was a fun match to play. We served and received well, blocked well and we hit well for the most part.”
In Pool Play JDHS went 10-2, Colony 10-2, Ketchikan 5-5, Petersburg 3-7, Sitka 2-8 and Thunder Mountain (4-6).
That set up Bracket Play which saw TMHS beat PSG 25-10, 25-21 and Ketchikan beat Sitka 25-12, 25-23 in the first round. JDHS then beat TMHS 25-21, 25-18 and Colony beat KTN 25-13, 25-13. JDHS beat Colony 25-9, 23-25, 15-9 in the semifinals.
TMHS beat Sitka 25-21, 25-19 and KTN beat PSG 25-16, 25-19 and TMHS beat KTN 25-21, 25-20 in the losers bracket. Colony beat TMHS 25-9 to earn the rematch with JDHS in the finals.
Gracie Meiners (SR, JDHS), Maddie McKeown (SO, JDHS), Mackenzie Everett (JR, COL), Ashley Turcotte (JR, COL), Jenna Luhrs (SR, TMHS), Danielle Steinman (JR, TMHS), Kaia Michalsen (SO, KTN), Kylie Wallace (SO, PSG), Melissa Dumag (SR, SIT).