The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team swept through its competition at the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza (JIVE tournament) on Oct. 5-6.
Now, after a weekend off to savor the victory, the Crimson Bears head north to see how they can do against some of the top teams in the state.
Juneau plays a match at Class 3A Cordova tonight at 7 p.m., then heads to Palmer to play Class 4A Colony High School at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The weekend is capped by the 19-team Service-Dimond Tournament on Friday and Saturday, a tournament so big it takes place at two Anchorage high schools. Juneau opens Service-Dimond tournament round-robin pool play at 4 p.m. on Friday.
"We're excited to see all the teams up there," Juneau senior outside hitter/defensive specialist Sarah Bixby said.
"It seems like a good variety, and we're ready to see some new teams," Juneau senior middle blocker Brenna Asper-Smith said. "I think JIVE was our peak, but we can go up from there."
The Crimson Bears (8-2 overall in regulation best-three-out-of-five-game matches) didn't lose a game during their JIVE tourney, posting a 12-0 record in round-robin pool play, then sweeping Ketchikan in a best-two-out-of-three-games semifinal match and sweeping Kodiak in a regulation match for the title. It was just Juneau's second JIVE tournament title in the 11 years it's hosted the tourney.
Now the Crimson Bears are ready for new challenges with the Service-Dimond Tournament. Last year's tournament featured all eight teams that qualified for the Class 4A state tournament and three teams that qualified for the Class 3A state tourney.
"We feel like we've been doing good in the region, but we're excited to play some other teams," Juneau junior outside hitter Kelly Baxter said.
"We know we'll be playing a lot of games, and Anchorage plays a faster pace and has a lot of big hitters," Juneau junior middle blocker Amy Neussl said. "I think we're all coming together pretty good, and we want to see what we can do up there."
Juneau co-coach Sandi Wagner said the Crimson Bears have been working on keeping their consistency through a match, trying to avoid the troublesome lulls that allow their opponents to go on long scoring runs. She said the team spent this week working on a quicker offense and taking harder shots in preparation for the faster pace it expects to see up north.
Juneau could be affected by having three starters -- junior setter Callan Janowiec, Neussl and Baxter -- who will be taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test on Saturday, joining a group of Anchorage students taking the test at Service High School. Those three could miss key round-robin games Saturday morning, which could with a loss, drop Juneau into a lower-seed match later that day.
"We're looking forward to the travel, then being at home next week," Neussl said. "They saw us at the beginning of the season and we want to see if we're better now."
After this weekend, Juneau returns home to play four matches next week. Juneau hosts Ketchikan on Oct. 24-25 in make-up matches for the two matches postponed when Ketchikan got stuck in Fairbanks after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Then, the Crimson Bears host Sitka for two varsity matches on Oct. 26-27. Juneau's junior varsity team will host its 12-team all-comers tournament the same weekend.
The Crimson Bears wrap up their season with the Region V-Class 4A tournament on Nov. 1-3 in Wrangell, followed by the Class 4A state tournament Nov. 8-10 at West Anchorage High School.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.