The Crimson Bears' teamwork was really jiving Saturday night during the championship match of the 13th Annual Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium.
Heeding the requests of their coaches, JDHS began to gel as a team in the championship match, beating Ketchikan in three straight games, 25-17, 25-14, and 25-12.
Juneau co-coach Sandi Wagner said the key to her squad's championship was "playing as a team, something we were struggling with earlier in the tournament. We were running into each other, letting balls drop. So I told them we needed to focus on playing as a team and that's what they did."
"The team played very well this last match," said Dale Bontrager, another of JDHS's three co-coaches. "They played as a team. We've been working all season to get that to happen and it really happened well tonight."
The championship appeared to be fairly even at the beginning of the match, but Juneau's height and power helped the Crimson Bears pull away in the early minutes. Jillian Hahnlen, Sarah Christianson and Megan Treston put up a strong defense and helped JDHS sprint out to a 17-7 lead before Ketchikan was forced to call a time-out.
The Crimson Bears seemed to become slightly unfocused when five teenage male fans stormed into the gym with black and red bodypaint that together spelled "JDHS!", but the team crept ahead with some good volleys and powerful hitting to win the closest game of the match by a score of 25-17.
"We wore ourselves out," said Ketchikan coach Naomi Michalsen. "We didn't have our game at all tonight, for the championship, we just kind of fell flat."
Michalsen said the key to Juneau's victory was, "Their height, and they play great defense. And their hits from the middle."
Juneau withheld its intensity going into the second game, led by the serving of Amber Johnson, who went 8 of 9 with two aces in the game. JDHS was ahead 8-1, forcing Ketchikan to call a time-out to regroup, but the Crimson Bears continued to pile up the points after the break. Trailing 15-5, Ketchikan began to take advantage of some mental mistakes made by Juneau and brought the score to 15-10, but JDHS fought back to win 25-14.
"We had really good teamwork in the end and no one ran into each other and if someone called it, it was their responsibility," said Christianson, who registered eight kills in the championship and made the all-tournament team. "We just did well."
"Everybody played, everybody contributed," said Wagner. "We subbed a lot. Everybody was a big part of the team."
The third game began fairly similar to the second, with Juneau quickly jumping out to an 11-1 lead with the help from the hustle of Hannah Barril, Torie Powers and Rochele Rodman. Ketchikan's two all-tournament players, Larissa Otness and Laura West, tried to spark a rally and pull their team back into the game, but Juneau's height and strength overpowered the Kings.
Johnson continued to dominate with her serves, going 11 of 11 with one ace during the final game. Hahnlen also continued to dominate the nets and the Crimson Bears swept the championship match with a 25-12 victory in the third game.
Hahnlen, who along with Barril also made the all-tournament team, said besides winning the best part of the tournament was, "getting to know each other better and playing together better."
"I'm looking forward to winning more and just playing with my team," she said. "I love my team."
"The last match was just so consistent," said Bontrager. "They stayed solid, they kept the pressure on Ketchikan, and you know Ketchikan can be a really tough team if you give them any room and the girls did a good job of keeping the pressure on. They need to learn to do that."
"The tournament was great," said Michalsen. "There was no easy game in the whole tournament, so we really had to play hard to get to the championship."
Hahnlen recorded nine kills in the championship and had two solo blocks, Barril had 13 total digs, and Powers served 13 of 13 with one ace in the first game of the championship.
"It was just a good weekend and I'm excited in how the kids played and how they came together as a team," said Wagner.
The round-robin scores of the tournament will be published in the Empire later during the week.
JIVE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
The all-tournament team from the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza held Friday and Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School.
All-tournament team - Larissa Otness, Ketchikan; Laura West, Ketchikan; Kim Ferrin, Haines; Natasha Robidou, Sitka; Brianne Goheen, Craig; Amanda Versteeg, Petersburg; Kristina Maxwell, Cordova; Meagan Newirth, Cordova; Coleen Nicoli, Mount Edgecumbe; Jolene Jackinsky, Mount Edgecumbe; Hannah Barril, Juneau; Sarah Christianson, Juneau; Jillian Hahnlen, Juneau.