It's been a cause of concern that the undefeated Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team had rarely been tested as it cruised through the season.
So the Crimson Bears were more than happy when the Chugiak Mustangs took them to four games in the championship match of the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza - also known as the JIVE Tournament - on Saturday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
The Crimson Bears won their second straight title, and just their third in the 12 years of the tournament, with a 15-12, 10-15, 15-2, 15-12 victory. The second-game loss to Chugiak was just the fourth game this season where Juneau (11-0 overall) has been on the short end of the score.
"I was really happy because we were tested," said Juneau junior outside hitter Julie Heard, one of four Crimson Bears to make the all-tournament team. "This was our first tournament of the season, and it helped prepare us for next week (when Juneau plays in the Service-Dimond Tournament in Anchorage)."
"It was kind of stressful, but this gave us more competition," added senior outside hitter Kelly Baxter, another Crimson Bear on the all-tournament team. "It was a good experience. We were a little down this morning, but overall it was a good weekend."
Joining Heard and Baxter on the all-tournament team were Juneau senior setter Callan Janowiec and senior middle hitter Amy Neussl. The other all-tournament team members were Krystin Willburn of Chugiak, Erin Carrick of Chugiak, Chantell Stadman of Chugiak, Sidney Wyman of Sitka, Anne Elliot of Ketchikan, Kaila Hawley of Cordova, Lynsey Adams of Cordova and Britni Birchell of Petersburg.
Cordova swept Petersburg 15-12, 15-11, 16-14 in the third-place match, while Ketchikan beat Mount Edgecumbe 8-15, 15-11, 15-6, 16-14 in the fifth-place match. In a play-in match, Mount Edgecumbe beat Sitka 14-16, 15-8, 15-13, so Sitka took seventh place.
Entering this weekend, the Crimson Bears had only lost two games all season - both to Service in a five-game match Juneau eventually won last month in Anchorage. Juneau had won the other nine best-three-of-five-game matches in three-game sweeps, and the Crimson Bears posted a perfect 14-0 record in the Sitka Jamboree (a preseason event that only featured round-robin pool-play). That gave Juneau a 44-2 record in games entering this weekend, with many of those games fairly one-sided.
Juneau cruised through Friday's portion of the round-robin pool-play, winning all eight of its mini-match games with the Crimson Bears' only struggles coming in a 15-9 victory over Sitka. Juneau won all its others by scores of 15-5 or better, except a 15-7 victory over Petersburg when Juneau dumped its bench in a game it led 10-2. Juneau handled Chugiak 15-4, 15-1 on Friday.
Neussl led Juneau on Friday with 37 kills in just 61 attack attempts, five solo blocks, three block assists and three ace serves. Baxter had 25 kills, four aces and 22 digs; Heard recorded 13 kills, 19 digs and four aces on 28-for-28 serving; Janowiec had four aces on 31-for-31 serving, 13 digs and five kills while making nearly all of the team's assists; Alessia Bonanno had 13 digs and four aces; and Nikki Bennett had 12 digs and four aces on Friday.
"We didn't play well yesterday," Chugiak coach Tait Rafat said. "We did better today. The girls came to play. When the girls serve tough, we can beat almost anyone. We can hang with the big dogs."
The Mustangs (4-7 overall in best 3-of-5 matches) are sub-.500 this season, but they did beat Service last month. Juneau is the state's only unbeaten Class 4A team, with Service having knocked Palmer from the undefeated ranks last week.
Juneau was missing Neussl for Saturday's round-robin pool-play games while she took the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Her absence, and the morning hour, meant Cordova was able to split its mini-match with Juneau, with each team winning a game with a 15-7 score. Juneau closed out pool play with a sweep of Mount Edgecumbe to take the top seed with an 11-1 record.
"We lost one of our pool-play games this morning, and it was a good reality check for us," Janowiec said.
Juneau swept Petersburg 15-6, 15-1 in one of the best 2-of-3 semifinal matches, with Janowiec serving 10 straight points in the second game to lead the Crimson Bears. Chugiak needed to rally to beat Cordova 10-15, 15-3, 15-9 in the other semifinal.
Baxter had 27 kills, 10 digs and three aces to lead Juneau in Saturday's early action, while Heard added 20 kills and 23 digs, Neussl had 12 kills and four solo blocks, Megan Treston added seven kills, Janowiec served seven aces and made 19 digs, Danielle Ryder served two aces, Ryia Waldern served three aces and had 14 digs, and Bennett made 11 digs.
In the championship match, Juneau fell behind 10-3 in the first game before rallying to win. Juneau led the second game 7-4, but Chugiak rallied for the win. The Crimson Bears dominated the third game as Janowiec served the final eight points. In the fourth game, Juneau led most of the way but Chugiak came back to tie the score 10-10 before the Crimson Bears rallied for the win.
"It was a little rough at the end," Neussl said. "It was a good match. They mixed it up and we mixed it up, and it worked out. They came after us today. We struggled with our passing and that limited our options. And the fans, they did so great."
Neussl had 19 kills, 17 digs, was 10-for-11 serving with one ace for Juneau. Baxter made 21 kills and 19 digs, Heard had 11 kills and 20 digs, Janowiec was a perfect 33-of-33 serving with three aces and 15 digs, while Bennett made 14 of 15 serves for the Crimson Bears.
Kerry Kucko led Chugiak with 14 kills and three aces, while Shaleen Seward had eight kills and an ace, Stadman had seven kills and two blocks, Carrick had 20 assists and Willburn added 20 assists.
"They were a good team, they pushed us," Treston said. "I liked it a lot."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
The results of the 2002 Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza, also known as the JIVE Tournament. All matches took place at the Juneau-Douglas High School main and auxiliary gyms. Participating teams were Juneau-Douglas (11-0 overall record in best 3-of-5 matches), Ketchikan (3-6), Sitka (3-4), Mount Edgecumbe (2-4), Petersburg (9-2), Cordova (8-1) and Chugiak (4-7).
All-tournament team - Julie Heard, Juneau-Douglas; Sidney Wyman, Sitka; Krystin Willburn, Chugiak; Anne Elliot, Ketchikan; Erin Carrick, Chugiak; Britni Birchell, Petersburg; Kaila Hawley, Cordova; Chantell Stadman, Chugiak; Lynsey Adams, Cordova; Amy Neussl, Juneau-Douglas; Callan Janowiec, Juneau-Douglas; Kelly Baxter, Juneau-Douglas.
Championship match (best-3-of-5) - Juneau-Douglas def. Chugiak, 15-12, 10-15, 15-2, 15-12.
Third-place match (best 3-of-5) - Cordova def. Petersburg, 15-12, 15-11, 16-14.
Fifth-place match (best 3-of-5) - Ketchikan def. Mount Edgecumbe, 8-15, 15-11, 15-6, 16-14.
Semifinal matches (best 2-of-3) - Juneau-Douglas def. Petersburg, 15-6, 15-1; Chugiak def. Cordova, 10-15, 15-3, 15-9.
Play-in match (best 2-of-3) - Mount Edgecumbe def. Sitka, 14-16, 15-8, 15-13.
Round-robin play results
Final standings - 1. Juneau-Douglas, 11-1; 2. Cordova, 9-3; 3. Chugiak, 7-5; 4. Petersburg, 5-7; 5. Ketchikan, 4-8; 6. Sitka, 3-9; 7. Mount Edgecumbe, 3-9.
Friday's results - Juneau-Douglas def. Ketchikan, 15-2, 15-3; Chugiak def. Mount Edgecumbe, 15-0, 15-11; Juneau-Douglas def. Sitka, 15-9, 15-5; Mount Edgecumbe split Petersburg, 15-13, 13-15; Sitka split Chugiak, 10-15, 15-13; Petersburg def. Cordova, 15-13, 15-11; Juneau-Douglas def. Chugiak, 15-4, 15-1; Cordova def. Ketchikan, 15-10, 15-6; Juneau-Douglas def. Petersburg, 15-7, 15-2; Mount Edgecumbe split Ketchikan, 15-13, 10-15; Cordova def. Sitka, 15-12, 15-7.
Saturday's results - Chugiak def. Ketchikan, 15-6, 15-9; Mount Edgecumbe split Sitka, 16-14, 8-15; Cordova split Juneau-Douglas, 15-7, 7-15; Petersburg split Ketchikan, 15-8, 12-15; Cordova def. Chugiak, 15-5, 15-4; Petersburg split Sitka, 13-15, 15-6; Juneau-Douglas def. Mount Edgecumbe, 15-5, 15-0; Ketchikan def. Sitka, 15-7, 15-12; Chugiak def. Petersburg, 15-8, 15-12; Cordova def. Mount Edgecumbe, 15-7, 15-11.