The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team will get an overdose of its sport this weekend as the Crimson Bears host four straight nights of varsity matches and a weekend junior varsity/C team tournament.
Not only will the Juneau varsity team play its regularly scheduled matches with Sitka at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, but the Crimson Bears will host Ketchikan tonight and Thursday in make-ups of two matches postponed due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Tonight's match against Ketchikan is at 8:30 p.m. and Thursday's match is at 6 p.m.
"It's going to be a long weekend, but we're ready to come back after last week," said Juneau junior setter Callan Janowiec, referring to Juneau's performance in the 24-team Service-Dimond Tournament in Anchorage last Friday and Saturday. The Crimson Bears tied for ninth place, but felt they should have done better.
"It's going to be tiring, but we'll be ready for it," Juneau co-coach Dale Bontrager said. "They've got to get past the confidence thing."
Bontrager said a weekend of inactivity, followed by a canceled match against Cordova when Juneau's plane had mechanical difficulties, resulted in the Crimson Bears having their confidence shaken when they lost the first two games of a match against Colony last Thursday. Even though Juneau was able to force a fifth game before losing the Colony match, the Crimson Bears' lack of confidence carried over into the Service-Dimond Tournament.
But some of the players felt the team's problems in the tournament were because of a loss of focus rather than shaken confidence.
"It was kind of overwhelming with so many teams," Juneau senior outside hitter Anna Capacci said.
"We have to not worry so much about what everyone else is doing," Janowiec said. "We started worrying about everyone else and we lost focus on our big goal."
Juneau (8-4 overall, 4-0 in Region V-Class 4A action) can clinch the top seed and first-round bye in the region tournament with a couple of victories over the weekend. Ketchikan is 4-2 in region play, while Sitka is 0-6. If Juneau sweeps Ketchikan tonight and Thursday, the Crimson Bears will clinch the regular-season region title. The Region V-Class 4A tournament is Nov. 1-3 in Wrangell and only the top team in the double-elimination tourney will advance to the state tournament Nov. 8-10 in Anchorage.
"We have to treat these matches as if they're as important as any Anchorage matches we play," Capacci said. "We don't want to let up at all against Sitka and Ketchikan. We have to have a strong weekend."
"We can't go in timid. We have to know we can win them," Juneau senior outside hitter-middle blocker Devra Roberts said. "We have to know we played hard. We have to play at our level. We thought we could have played better last week."
In case the four varsity matches aren't enough volleyball for one weekend, Juneau's JV and C teams will host a 17-team all-comers tournament on Friday and Saturday. The tournament will feature four teams from Juneau, three from Sitka, two from Ketchikan, two from Kake, two from Hoonah and single teams from Klawock, Gustavus, Hydaburg and Skagway.
The tournament will open at 3 p.m. on Friday and at 8 a.m. on Saturday with the field broken down into four round-robin pools. After the first round of pool-play, the field will be split into four new pools. The top four teams from the second batch of pools will then play two semifinal matches with the winners advancing to the championship match on Saturday night. The tournament will have action in both the JDHS main and auxiliary gyms, with all the action shifting to the auxiliary gym when the varsity is scheduled to play.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.