The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team just can't get a break this season.
The Crimson Bears are playing great, coming off a sweep of Sitka last weekend. But the new rally scoring system and other rule changes keep the players on the move at all times.
Points on every serve, the decision to allow "let serves" - serves that hit the net but carry over - to remain in play and fewer umpire calls have increased the pace of matches in Alaska this season.
Juneau volleyball fans will have the first chance to see the Crimson Bear varsity in action this weekend. Juneau (2-0 in best 3-of-5 matches) hosts Ketchikan (1-4, all in best 2-of-3 matches) at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Junior varsity matches start at 6 p.m. each night, and the C teams will play at 4:30 p.m.
Aside from the preseason Jamboree tourney, this will be the first time the Crimson Bears have competed using the rally scoring system at home. Since it increases the number of scoring chances, rally-scored matches are played to 25 points. The fifth game, if necessary, is played to 15.
"I really like rally scoring," said Juneau senior outside hitter Julie Heard, who staged an impressive offensive performance against Sitka last weekend. "It picks up the tempo of the game, and serving is more important."
Good serving is crucial because rally scoring immediately penalizes bad serving. If a serve goes out of bounds or fails to cross the net, the opposing team picks up a point right away - instead of just getting possession. Juneau coach Sandi Wagner said the team has been spending more time on serves in practice this season.
The allowance of let serves means Juneau's front-line defenders always have to be on their toes.
"Our girls in the front row have to be ready for the balls that dribble over the net," Heard said.
Wagner said she is pleased with the team's defensive performance; this week's preparations have focused on adding some new dimensions to the Crimson Bear offense.
"We've had (some) really good practices, and the kids are working hard," she said.
Ketchikan participated in the preseason Jamboree tournament in Juneau last month. Last weekend, the team participated in the eight-team East Anchorage Invitational, where they took sixth place with a 1-4 record in best two-of-three matches.
Tennis team hosts first competition
The Juneau-Douglas High School tennis team will host the first event of its inaugural season this weekend.
Crimson Bear netters will take part in the Juneau Junior Singles Championship from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at JRC-The Alaska Club's Mendenhall Valley location. For more information, see Sports in Juneau on Page B2.
Since starting with a core group of six players, coach Amra Remsberg said the team has grown to 17 players over the past month, including several youths who are just starting out in the sport. That bodes well for the squad in future seasons.
The team is still working on raising money to cover travel costs. Remsberg said the Crimson Bears would like to travel to an October tournament in Anchorage, if upcoming fundraisers are successful.
Cross-country runners head to Wrangell
On the heels of great results at last weekend's Palmer Invitational, the Juneau-Douglas High School cross-country running team is looking to solidify its postseason lineup at this weekend's Wrangell Invitational.
The Crimson Bear boys won the team title at Palmer, which was held on the same course as the state championship on Sept. 27. The Juneau girls didn't have a complete team in Palmer, but all three of their runners finished in the top 32. The Juneau JV teams swept the Skagway Invitational last weekend.
On Saturday, some of Juneau's younger runners will compete in the Wrangell meet to try and earn one of the final spots on the seven-member boys and girls varsity squads for postseason competition.
The Crimson Bears host the Region V championship meet on Sept. 20 and only the varsity runners will compete.