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The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears clinched the Region V-Class 4A volleyball championship and a berth at next weekend's Class 4A state tournament with a pair of sweeps over the Ketchikan Kings on Friday and Saturday in Wrangell.
The Crimson Bears, who had a first-round bye for winning the regular-season title, swept Ketchikan 16-14, 15-12, 15-3 in Friday's semifinal match. Juneau then clinched the title with a 15-6, 15-6, 15-5 victory on Saturday. In other Class 4A tournament action, Ketchikan swept Sitka in the first round and swept the winless Wolves again in a losers' bracket match, but game scores weren't available from those matches.
"After today's game, I think we're a lot further ahead than we were yesterday as far as state goes," Juneau co-coach Dale Bontrager said.
The Crimson Bears (14-4 overall) found a tougher Ketchikan team on Friday than the one it faced a week ago in Juneau. Ketchikan (13-9) was buoyed by the return of Anne Elliott and Jonnae Ostrom, who both missed the Juneau series.
In the first two games, Juneau had to fight back from deficits to win the games. The Kings had game-point in the first game with a 14-10 lead, but Ketchikan made a couple of errors and Juneau took advantage of them to win the game, Bontrager said. He thought Juneau's second-game comeback disheartened the Kings for the third game, when the Crimson Bears easily closed out the match.
"Ketchikan played outstanding defense, and we were a little slow on offense in our first two games," Bontrager said. "Ketchikan was at full strength this weekend and it helped. Jonnae is one heck of an athlete. She's not that big, but she was jumping up with our middles. Anne made a difference for them, and Zeta (Moss) and Krystin (Willburn) both played well. They were getting a lot of shots off our arms."
When Juneau met Ketchikan for the championship of the double-elimination tournament, the Crimson Bears were a lot stronger on their offense and Ketchikan's defense was streaky, Bontrager said.
"After the first five points, when we trailed 4-0 and 5-1, we finally got things going and our passing got a lot better," Bontrager said. "We had a lot of options on our offense. The second game started with a major kill from Kelly (Baxter), and that set the tone for the game and Ketchikan never recovered. Anna Capacci's serving was tough, too. She could put the ball anywhere."
Before the tournament started, the coaches voted for an all-region team based on the regular season. Juneau juniors Amy Neussl, Kelly Baxter and Callan Janowiec all made the team, as did Zeta Moss and Anne Elliott from Ketchikan and Kim Uddipa from Sitka.
In Friday's match, Neussl led Juneau with 13 kills, 11 digs, three solo blocks and three block assists. Sarah Bixby was a perfect 22-for-22 serving with three aces, Janowiec was 11-for-11 serving with no aces and 11 digs, Capacci was 14-for-14 serving with three aces and nine kills, and Baxter recorded 15 digs and 13 kills.
In Saturday's match, Janowiec served for 26 Juneau's 45 points and was 31-for-32 serving with three aces and 12 digs. Bixby was 7-for-7 serving with no aces and 10 digs, Capacci was 11-for-12 serving with six aces and five kills, Neussl had 14 kills, 11 digs and three block assists, Baxter added 16 kills and Brenna Asper-Smith had two solo blocks.