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The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team struggled at times Saturday, but still managed to rally for a three-game sweep of Ketchikan to win the Region V-Class 4A championship for the 11th time in 13 years.
"We beat Ketchikan, but we played pretty poorly today," Juneau coach Sandi Wagner said of the 15-6, 17-15, 15-11 victory at Craig High School. "It wasn't the best match we've played this season."
In the Region V-Class 3A championship match later Saturday night, Craig beat Mount Edgecumbe 9-15, 15-6, 15-5, 15-13.
In the Class 4A final, Juneau jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held on to win the first game. But the second game was tougher as Ketchikan seemed to wake up and led most of the game. Juneau tied the score at 11-11 and later led 14-13, but Ketchikan came back to take a 15-14 lead and had game point. But Juneau rallied to tie it, then Anna Capacci closed off the game with a couple of off-speed dink kills.
Ketchikan ran off to a 10-3 lead in the third game, but Juneau took a time out and started another rally. Amy Neussl got the Crimson Bears going by serving a couple of points, then playing strong defense. And Janina Pelayo served Juneau into a 10-10 tie with three aces to give the Crimson Bears the momentum they needed to close out the match.
"Ketchikan played us tough, and that should help us at state," Juneau assistant coach Dale Bontrager said. "We had an outstanding comeback. We've been able to come back like that all season. We got ourselves into a deep hole twice, but they rallied and got it together in time."
Angie Mill, Pelayo and Capacci all made the all-tournament team for Juneau, while Ketchikan was represented by Danette Kahle and Zeta Moss and Sitka's Kim Uddipa rounded out the team.
Capacci had 10 kills in the final match for Juneau, while Neussl added nine kills, 17 digs and was 14-for-15 serving with two aces. Pelayo served five aces in the title match and made seven kills and 14 digs from her setter's position, while Mill was a perfect 12-for-12 serving with two aces and 18 digs and Callan Janowiec was 19-for-19 serving with two aces and 13 digs. Brenna Asper-Smith added six kills, a solo block and two block assists, Kelly Baxter had four kills off the bench, and Rosemarie Maher was a perfect 6-for-6 serving with two aces.
"We played some defense, and we had 63 attacks in that second game on offense," Juneau assistant coach Pat Gorman said. "We had some long rallies."
This year's Region V tournament was double-elimination for the first time. Ketchikan beat Sitka to open the tournament Thursday, then lost to Juneau 15-9, 15-11, 15-4 on Friday. Ketchikan beat Sitka again Friday night, but Juneau won the rematch on Saturday to claim the title.
Neussl led Juneau on Friday with 12 kills, eight digs and a perfect 14-for-14 serving performance. Asper-Smith added 11 kills and two solo blocks, while Capacci had eight kills, Mill had 11 digs, Janowiec served four aces and had eight digs, and Pelayo and Sharon Villanueva both were 6-for-6 serving with Villanueva adding two aces.
"In Friday's match we played good, consistent ball," Bontrager said. "And Ketchikan didn't bring it on as well as they did Saturday."
Juneau qualified for the Class 4A state tournament Nov. 9-11 at West Anchorage High School, while Craig and Mount Edgecumbe both qualified for the Class 3A state tourney.