The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team's regular season concludes this weekend with a most familiar foe.
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Ketchikan will make the trip north to take on the Crimson Bears for matches on Friday and Saturday. Varsity games will start at 8 p.m., while junior varsity games start at 6:30 p.m. with C division games at 4:15 p.m.
Both teams hold identical 5-1 conference records. The winner of this series will hold a top seed in the Class 4A Southeast Region tournament in Petersburg.
"It'll be a good match and should be pretty intense and fun at the same time," JDHS hitter Nicole Fenumiai said.
The two teams split a pair of matches in Ketchikan on Sept. 7-8. The Kings won 3-0 in the first match but Juneau returned the favor to win 3-0 the following night.
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Who: JDHS vs. Ketchikan.
When: Friday and Saturday. C game at 4:15 p.m., JV game at 6:30 p.m. and varsity at 8 p.m.
Where: JDHS gym.
What's at stake: The winner of this series earns the top seed in the Class 4A Southeast Conference tournament in Petersburg.
Since that weekend, Juneau-Douglas embarked on a strenuous schedule of tournaments against top-flight competition.
The Bears traveled to Washington state, hosted its own Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza tournament and flew north to Anchorage for the Service/Dimond Tournament.
At Anchorage, Juneau finished third in its bracket. However, the team felt enthused about its performance and felt it improved since its third-place finish at the JIVE two weeks earlier.
"After last week we learned a whole lot of new things to work on," JDHS senior Amanda Leamer said. "As a team playing, we've bonded more. We're more familiar with each other on the court and know our strengths and weaknesses and know what to work on."
That familiarity should help against the Kings - a team JDHS is more familiar with than anyone.
Because Juneau and Ketchikan know each other so well, a key for the Crimson Bears likely would be limiting mistakes. JDHS can't afford to give any points away to a team that is more than capable of scoring on their own.
"We need to react to what we see on the other side of the net," Leamer said.
JDHS has been a solid defensive team throughout the season. Libero Carly Lehnhart leads the team in digs while Cortney Wagner has added intensity to the back line.
Up front, the Crimson Bears boast multiple options. On any night, either Fenumiai, Kristen Pratt or Kristie Ely could lead the team in kills while Rachel Peyton, Susy Hurtte or Leamer can be called upon to deliver a big kill.
This weekend will also be the final home games for the program's 19 seniors.
Juneau-Douglas hopes to have a nice crowd on hand for the senior's final game against a longtime rival. The Bears themselves are even advertising a bit, telling their friends to come cheer them on for the big series. Senior Kassie Allred said she's already told some friends to get to the games this weekend.
"It's a fun night," she said. "We normally don't have big crowds so we're like, "Come on, it's our last game.''
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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