The Juneau-Douglas High School main gym laid unusually quiet and bare late Monday evening. Its normal tenants — the JDHS varsity volleyball team — were taking a well-deserved night off from practice.
The Crimson Bears varsity team played 11 sets of volleyball against nine different teams in less than 24 hours. At West Anchorage High School’s Spiketacular Tournament, JDHS won five out of their eight pool play games (one set to 25 points) before falling to Barrow, 2-1, in the first round of the Gold Bracket.
“Every game counts, you can’t just coast during pool play if you want to make the Gold Bracket and you got to really play well all the time,” JDHS assistant volleyball coach Dale Bontrager said of the tournament. “And they did — they played so well. I was really proud of the girls.”
Senior Cassie Dzinich was named to the all-tournament team.
After going 6-2 in pool play, the host West Anchorage Eagles won the Gold Bracket championship over Dimond. A total of 10 teams played in two pools. The top-five teams in each pool with the best record after eight games advanced to the Gold Bracket. The other 10 played in the Silver Bracket.
JDHS was undefeated up until they played West Anchorage on Saturday morning in their fifth set of the tournament. Up until that point, the Crimson Bears defeated Ketchikan (25-6), South JV (25-16), Palmer (25-16) and Wasilla (26-24). The Crimson Bears tied against East Anchorage.
The height and pace of play of West Anchorage gave JDHS trouble right away. After falling behind, the Crimson Bears recovered some points after a timeout, but not enough to catch up to the Eagles, who won 25-14.
“They’re hitting the ball really hard. Things are just happening faster. Our team had to make a huge adjustment because everything’s happening faster than we’re used to,” Bontrager said.
“They did make adjustments. They started expecting the hard hits and the quick offense and we turned it around and scored some points. At first, it was going to be embarrassing but we made a respectable showing in the second half of the game.”
The Crimson Bears split games with Chugiak (24-26) and Kenai (25-11) before being eliminated in the bracket round by Barrow.
The Crimson Bears travel to Sitka this weekend with a full varsity, JV and C team squad. Each team will play both the Sitka Wolves and Mt. Edgecumbe Braves on Friday and Saturday. Sitka varsity returned home from Juneau on Saturday having lost two games to Thunder Mountain.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.