The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team said it was excited to play its first home games of the season in this weekend's Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza, and they gave their fans a lot to cheer about.
The top-seeded Crimson Bears beat the second-seeded Kodiak Bears, 15-7, 15-6, 15-10, Saturday at the JDHS main gym to take the JIVE Tournament title and complete a perfect record in the tourney.
"This is the most consistent ball we've played all season," Juneau co-coach Dale Bontrager said. "That was our goal."
Juneau finished Friday and Saturday's round-robin pool play with a 12-0 record -- three games ahead of Kodiak -- and continued its dominance with a 15-1, 15-8 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Ketchikan to reach the title match.
The first game of the championship match remained close early, with the two teams reaching ties at 2-2, 6-6 and 7-7. From there, however, Juneau scored eight straight points for a decisive 15-7 win.
Juneau started strong in a second game that was never close, building leads of 7-0 and 10-1 before closing out with a 15-6 victory.
Kodiak did not go out quietly in the third game, as they jumped to an early 5-0 lead. With Kodiak still ahead 9-4, Juneau mounted a rally to reach a 9-9 tie and then continued to a 14-9 lead they would not relinquish. The Crimson Bears closed out the game, the match and the tournament on a kill by senior Brenna Asper-Smith.
Amy Neussl led Juneau in the title match with 11 kills, three aces and two blocks. Other leaders included Kelly Baxter and Asper-Smith adding eight kills each and Krista Heard with two aces. Julie Heard and Baxter led the Crimson Bears in digs with five each, and Anna Capacci had four.
This year's title is Juneau's second in the 11-year run of the JIVE tournament. Last year, the Crimson Bears went into the final as the top seed, only to lose the title to second-seeded Skyview.
Juneau seniors Capacci and Krista Heard said they felt team chemistry helped put the Crimson Bears over the top in this year's tournament.
"Everybody was pumping each other up," Capacci said. "We were ready to go as one."
The home crowd also made a difference, Heard said.
"It was so much fun," Heard said of the home-court atmosphere. "It's good to have a home crowd to back us up."
In other playoff matches, Ketchikan beat Sitka, 15-13, 15-12, 15-5, to take third place. West Valley of Fairbanks needed five games to defeat Petersburg in the fifth-place match, and Mount Edgecumbe took seventh place.
Four Juneau-Douglas players were named to the JIVE all-tournament team -- Callan Janowiec, Kelly Baxter, Julie Heard and Sarah Bixby. The other all-tournament selections were Erica Starr of West Valley; Ana Enge of Petersburg; Anne Elliot and Zeta Moss of Ketchikan; Kim Uddipa of Sitka; and Megan Nugent, Libby Rietze and Lindsey Cassidy of Kodiak.
Juneau will not play next week, and will go on the road the following week with matches at Class 3A Cordova on Oct. 17, at Class 4A Colony on Oct. 18 and at the Service-Dimond Invitational in Anchorage on Oct. 19-20.
"If we can bring this level of consistency to Anchorage, we should be in a good way," Bontrager said.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.