The Crimson Bears volleyball team fed off the energy of senior night at Juneau-Douglas High School as they grounded the Falcons in three games Saturday night.
After a pre-game ceremony honoring seniors Krista Barril, Nia Maake, Mahlet Tingley and Ruthanne Yadao, the Bears broke it open early in Game 1 and never looked back, defeating Thunder Mountain 25-9, 25-8, 25-6.
The seniors were featured prominently in their final regular season match in front of the home crowd.
Coach Sandi Wagner said her players looked good in their final regular-season game.
"I was pleased with how my seniors played when they were on the court at the same time," she said. "We haven't done that all season, so that was a new lineup for us. They did great."
Wagner said backline players Tingley and Yadao played well on the front line.
The opening play of the game set the tone for the rest of the evening, as Sarah Tarver was set up perfectly for an emphatic kill. JDHS raced out to an 8-1 lead in Game 1 and stayed poised on the way to a 25-9 win behind five kills from Tingley and three aces from Yadao.
The second game played out similarly, but this time the Bears opened up an early 10-0 lead with Kalea Chapman on serve, firing three aces along the way. Yadao and Tingley also made great contributions as both were on serve during two separate 6-0 runs.
Game 3 was not much different. Yadao only got better as the evening went on, tallying five aces in the final set, giving her eight for the match. Tarver also had her biggest statistical game of the match as she created havoc along the front line with five kills and a block, giving her 12 kills and four stuffs on the night.
"I was ready for today, and I was just excited to play on senior night because it pumped me up and gave me the energy I had," Tarver said. "I'm really proud of us and can't wait until regionals."
Barril said this was a good game for her team because they kept up their intensity all night, something they need for the post season.
"We kept up our offense, which we kind of struggle with sometimes, even though it was a slow game," she said. "We were able to work on our quick offense, which is something a lot of teams in Anchorage are doing. So that gets us prepared for what we might be facing if we make it to state."
"I have a lot of faith in our team because we work really well together, and that's what you look for in a team."
Thunder Mountain coach Adriana Rodriguez said she is proud of the progress her young team has made this season.
"Overall, this has been a great learning experience for the girls," she said. "They learned some of their weaknesses, and it's hard to grow unless you realize your weaknesses. They're excited about knowing what they need to work on for regionals."
Bears show focus, poise Friday
The Bears made quick work of the Falcons in Friday's first meeting of a Halloween-weekend doubleheader, shooting to big early leads and sweeping the match.
Looking like a team ready for post season play, the Bears won going away, 25-4, 25-8, 25-7. Juneau-Douglas was focused from the opening serve.
"That, to me, was huge," coach Sandi Wagner said of her team's intensity level. "The score didn't matter to me. What mattered was that they played in the game the entire time. I was concerned we may be a little unfocused and not quite ready, but they showed that they were.
"We made some physical errors, but that happens every game. But we only made one or two errors from not being focused. That's huge; 75 points and only one or two errors from not being focused."
JDHS quickly ran up a 9-0 lead in Game 1 behind three aces from Kalea Chapman before upping it to 17-1 after eight straight points, including three kills each by Sarah Tarver and Daffodil Alinson. JDHS closed the game with a 7-0 run, with game point coming on an out-of-bounds kill by Savana Petrie.
Game 2 was nearly a carbon copy. Juneau-Douglas built leads of 10-0, and 17-1, with point 16 coming on a tag-team stuff by Tarver and Maria Weyhrauch, and point 17 coming on a big kill by Tarver. The Bears closed with three straight points, with Krista Bontrager acing game point.
Game 3 was back and forth early, but after leading 7-4, JDHS exploded with 11 straight points behind the service of Krista Barril, including six straight aces and seven overall for a 17-4 lead. Alinson scored match point with aset shot.
TMHS coach Adriana Rodriguez said her first-year team was intimidated after Juneau-Douglas build such big early leads.
"Our girls played hard but there's definitely little tweaks that we need to do, like covering our blocks a little better - the little things," she said. "They get intimidated when they come in and play their home team, but they played hard. I couldn't have asked them to do anything different."