It's been a month since the Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team played a match on its home court, and the undefeated Crimson Bears can't wait to show off for their local fans.
The Crimson Bears will host the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza - also known as the JIVE Tournament - this weekend, so Juneau's volleyball fans will have plenty of time to catch up. Action starts at 4 p.m. on Friday and continues at 9 a.m. on Saturday at both the JDHS main and auxiliary gyms. The semifinals are set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday at both gyms and the championship match at 8 p.m. Saturday at the main gym. All of Juneau's matches will be in the main gym.
"We're pumped up, we want to show what we can do," Juneau senior outside Danielle Ryder said.
"Everyone's been hearing how well we've been doing, but they haven't been able to see us," Juneau senior setter Callan Janowiec said. "Now they can see us."
This year's JIVE Tournament features the three Region V-Class 4A teams - Juneau (10-0 overall, 6-0 region), Ketchikan (2-6 region) and Sitka (2-4 region). The field also includes Chugiak (4-6 overall, 4-3 Region IV-Class 4A) and Class 3A powers Petersburg, Cordova and Mount Edgecumbe.
The teams will play a round-robin series of two-game mini-matches on Friday night and Saturday morning, with the teams posting the best round-robin records advancing into the placement matches. Juneau, which won the title last year, is looking to win just its third JIVE Tournament championship in 12 years.
Chugiak is one of the teams the Crimson Bears are anxious to play. The Mustangs are down a little bit this year, but Chugiak has been to several recent Class 4A state tournaments. Juneau hasn't played Chugiak this year, but the Crimson Bears are familiar with one of the Mustangs - setter Krystin Willburn, who played for Ketchikan last year. Chugiak beat East Anchorage on Tuesday.
"We're looking forward to playing Chugiak," Juneau senior defensive specialist Mary Wilcock said.
"We're happy to get some of the big guns from Anchorage down here," Janowiec said.
Juneau, which is the state's last unbeaten Class 4A team, was off last weekend, catching up on schoolwork after two straight weekends on the road. The Crimson Bears clinched at least a tie for the region's regular-season title when it swept two matches in Ketchikan on Sept. 27-28. When Sitka swept two matches from Ketchikan on Oct. 4-5, it gave Juneau the top seed for the Region V-Class 4A playoffs on Nov. 7-9 at Mount Edgecumbe in Sitka. On Sept. 18-21, Juneau swept four matches in Anchorage and Wasilla.
"Our team chemistry is awesome," Juneau junior outside hitter Julie Heard said when asked the secret of her team's success. "Everyone's friends, off the court and on it. We're really excited to play Petersburg. They're tall, and we want to see how we do against them."
Petersburg, which won last year's Region V-Class 3A title and features several 6-footers in its lineup, lost its first match of the season on Sept. 27 when the Vikings fell to Craig in a five-game match in Wrangell. Petersburg and Craig were Region V's two representatives to last year's Class 3A state tournament. One of the teams Petersburg beat at the state tournament last year was Cordova. Petersburg swept Mount Edgecumbe 15-2, 16-14, 16-14 on Sept. 27 in Wrangell.
For the Crimson Bears, though, the biggest part of this weekend is being back in front of a hometown crowd after a month.
"We have fans, but we haven't seen them," Juneau senior middle blocker Amy Neussl said.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.