The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team discovered that hard work in practice can pay off nicely in a game situation over the weekend.
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The Crimson Bears (5-1, 5-1 Southeast) defeated visiting Sitka on Friday and Saturday to sweep the season series. JDHS won 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 on Friday and 20-25, 25-8, 25-19, 25-18 on Saturday in the Bears' home debut.
"It's encouraging," Juneau's Rachel Peyton said. "Having lots of people cheer for you is a boost."
In the week of practice prior to the Sitka series, Juneau-Douglas spent plenty of time working on its blocking.
The drills, designed to help the players send back opposing spikes, appeared to have a positive affect.
"We've been working on that in practice," JDHS junior Kristie Ely said. "We've been working on that drill with the string across the line and you have to penetrate through it. That's been my problem a lot. I started doing that and getting back into single blocking. And that seems to be what I did really good this game."
After dropping Saturday's first game, Ely recorded four blocks as JDHS surged to an 11-2 lead en route to winning the second game.
Ely led JDHS with six blocks.
"It gave me a lot of confidence because lately I had it down low and I was not so confident in my hitting and blocking," Ely said of her blocking Saturday. "With that I feel like I got back to how I used to do that, and it builds."
Ely joined forces with Nicole Fenumiai and Susy Hurtte up front to form a formidable wall against Sitka's power hitters.
Fenumiai added three blocks in Saturday's win.
"I enjoy playing with (Susy) so much because we mold as one person" Ely said. "Me and Nicole are perfect in the middle and anyone who hits has to go over or around, and even then we try to touch it."
As Ely helped the team's defense, Peyton aided the Bears with her serving.
JDHS coach Pat Gorman said Peyton learned to jump-serve during the week of practice. She used this new weapon efficiently Saturday, recording a team-high six aces while going a perfect 29-for-29 in the four-game win.
Juneau-Douglas spread the ball around offensively as Fenumiai led the team with 10 kills while Ely added nine kills and Kristen Pratt contributed six kills.
Carly Lehnhart led Juneau-Douglas in digs with 12.
Juneau-Douglas also won the junior varsity game Saturday 25-16, 25-5, 25-18. The Bears' C team fell to Sitka on Saturday 11-25, 25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 17-15.
On Friday, Juneau-Douglas received another balanced attack to down Sitka.
Pratt led the team with eight kills while Ely added seven kills and three blocks on Friday. Peyton and Fenumiai contributed four kills each. Cortney Wagner and Hurtte chipped in two kills each and Kayla Walton added one kill in the win.
Pratt and Hailey Summers led the team in aces with three each while Lehnhart posted a team-best 11 digs.
The Bears' JV won 25-20, 17-25, 25-14, 25-15 on Friday while the C team downed Sitka 25-14, 25-22, 16-25, 25-21.
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.