The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears opened their season with an impressive sweep of the Ketchikan Kings in two nights of explosive Region V-Class 4A volleyball action Friday and Saturday night at Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium.
The varsity experience of seniors Amy Neussl, Callan Janowiec, Kelly Baxter, and junior Julie Heard paired with the aggressive play of some key varsity newcomers to give the Crimson Bears a strong 2-0 start to their 2002 season.
"Starting with two wins is a good way to ease into the season," Janowiec said. "It's a good jumping off point."
JDHS controlled the tempo of play to win their matches 15-1, 15-2, 15-0 on Friday and 15-3, 15-5, 15-6 on Saturday.
"We didn't have ups and downs. We stayed up the whole time, playing consistent," Janowiec said.
A poised Crimson Bears team dominated from the beginning of Friday's first game, going on a 12-0 run before Ketchikan scored their first and only point of that match.
JDHS charged into the second game, displaying good concentration while executing some great serves and powerful spikes. A lengthy and exciting rally at 14-2 returned the serve to Juneau and triggered a 16-point consecutive run, which finished the first evening of play in under an hour. A group of JDHS students cheered and held up signs as the team finished Friday's game with a 15-0 shutout in the third match.
Ketchikan came into the second evening fired up and matched their points from Friday's matches and took the lead for the first several minutes of the first game.
"We started a little bit slow, but than definitely picked it up," Neussl said of Friday night's match.
A powerful spike by Heard triggered a rally which tied the match at 3-3. Some good communication and team work produced the next 12 points for the Crimson Bears to seal the match 15-3.
"All the kids are stepping up and people are filling the holes," JDHS co-coach Sandi Wagner said after last night's victory. "They're working as a team."
Juneau capitalized on their unity and gained an early lead in the second match of last night's game. Powerful play led by Neussl was too much for Ketchikan to catch up to. Directly after a time out called by Ketchikan when trailing 13-5 on Juneau's possession, senior defensive setter Nikki Bennett served the final two points to finish the match 15-5.
"They didn't play as fine tuned as they did yesterday," Wagner said after Saturday night's match.
She said that Ketchikan played much better on Saturday and expects the younger team will get much better as the season moves on. "We have more experience than them," she said.
Kings coach Naomi Michalsen said she was impressed by the Crimson Bears play. "The better the competition, the better it pushes you as a player and as a team," she said. "Juneau has always been the team to beat."
Michalsen said that Juneau is one of the more powerful teams in the region. "They're an older team and they have lots of experience," she said.
Ketchikan rallied with one last valiant effort, taking the lead at the beginning of the third match with a score of 5-3. Juneau took back the lead with a sly shot by senior outside hitter Ryia Waldern and would maintain the lead for the rest of the match.
Ketchikan called a timeout at 8-5 and Wagner left the veterans to lead the team as she could be heard saying, "You know what to do. I don't need to tell you." On the first play after the timeout, Ketchikan scored its final point of the competition before Juneau did what they knew they needed to.
Another time out was called by Ketchikan after the lead was increased to 12-6, which led to the final three consecutive serves by Heard to win the game.
"Since (the Sitka) Jamboree last week and the game last night we're getting better," Neussl said after Saturday night's victory. "We got good game experience for a lot of the subs."
"I think we're working really well as a team," Janowiec said. "We got a lot of people in so they could work of different stuff."
"We did really well as a team," said Baxter. "We focused and played our game."
The Crimson Bears will travel to Sitka for Region V-Class 4A games against the Wolves this Friday and Saturday.
Eric Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.