Juneau-Douglas secured its 24th straight bid to the volleyball state tournament Saturday with another 3-0 sweep over host Ketchikan in the Southeast Conference Volleyball Tournament.
"We had a lot of fun with it, and it was our last game in Southeast so we were pumped up to win it," senior outside/middle hitter Chelsea Flint said. "We're definitely happy with the way we played and everyone on the team is proud of each other. This is a great group of girls with all seniors except Krista (Bontrager), who is our only junior and our little baby.
"But we definitely have fun together and we're really pumped to be together for this last time to go up to state."
The Kings played the Bears close in Game 1, but it was all JDHS after that. Juneau-Douglas won 25-17, 25-13 and 25-8, wrapping up a perfect conference season in which JDHS never lost so much as a set to either Ketchikan or Thunder Mountain.
But the Kings pushed the Crimson Bears early, just as they did during Juneau-Douglas' 3-0 semifinal victory Friday.
After the Bears jumped to a 5-1 lead, Ketchikan tied the game at 5-5. The Kings took their first lead on a kill by Crystal Covault, and pushed their advantage to 9-5 behind solid serving by Sarah Clark.?
But the Kings' dream start didn't last long.
"The first game, we played like we did the night before," Flint said. "But after a while, we started finding our sets and getting some hits down, especially Sarah (Tarver) and Taylor (Larson). They definitely found the floor on the other side."
In a matter of minutes, Juneau-Douglas fought back to tie the game at 12-12, took the lead on back-to-back aces by senior setter Vika Toetuu, and ripped off seven straight points to build a 19-12 advantage.
Clark tried to bring the Kings back with a kill that made it 19-13, but Larson and Tarver, both senior middle hitters, came up with slams of their own to keep Ketchikan at bay.
Game 2 was never in doubt as Juneau-Douglas raced to an 18-4 lead - capped by a kill from Larson and an ace from Tarver - and the final game wasn't close.
The Crimson Bears had nine points before Ketchikan got its first, and the Kings trailed 20-3 at one point.
"We definitely found our game (Saturday)," Flint said. "The night before, we weren't really meshing together. Not everything was on point, but tonight we definitely found ourselves and were able to put the win away."
The Crimson Bears had 16 kills as a team in both Games 1 and 3.
Tarver had a monster 21 kills on the night, putting up seven in each game. She also added four aces and six digs. Tarver credited senior setters Vika Toetuu and Megan Hart for assisting the hitters during the Crimson Bears' kill spree.
"We were just really pumped because this was our last regional, and we wanted to make it exciting. We definitely put our hearts into it," Tarver said of the match. "The whole team was passing really well, and Vika and Megan were awesome. They were so good, and it was a team effort hitting."
Tarver played tentatively at times as a junior, but she has since emerged as one of the state's top hitters and most versatile players.
"Sarah was a beast all weekend," Coach Sandi Wagner said of Tarver. "Pretty much everything she touched was golden. She served tough, she passed great and she hit well."
Senior outside hitter Daffodil Alinson had six kills and seven digs, and senior outside hitter Amanda Roemeling also had six kills.
Senior defensive specialist Kalea Chapman led a stout defensive effort from the back row with eight digs. Hart added six digs.
Wagner praised the team for a balanced effort, especially the defensive play and passing of the back row.
"We had a much better back row and much better passing tonight, which makes a big difference in our game," she said. "Our setting was more consistent, and it was a better all-around combination."
Wagner said the team scored 20 of its 25 points in the deciding game off offensive attacks, aces or blocks. Just five points came off Ketchikan miscues.
"That's a pretty high number," she said approvingly.
Ketchikan swept Thunder Mountain 3-0 (25-20, 25-23 and 25-16) Friday night to earn another shot at JDHS in the double-elimination tourney title game.
Next up for JDHS is the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Wasilla.
•Ketchikan Daily News Sports Editor John Borneman contributed to this report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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