The Monday after the Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team's epic five-game victory over Ketchikan in the Southeast Conference title game, the Crimson Bears continued to relive their match.
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The team was three points away from elimination but rebounded to win its 15th consecutive region title. It was Juneau-Douglas' third five-game battle with Ketchikan in two days.
"I just remember talking to the teammates Monday and saying like, 'I can't believe we pulled that off,'" senior Susy Hurtte said. "That was awesome. We were so excited about that."
The reward for Saturday's championship wasn't solely a trip to the state tournament, but the knowledge that the team ultimately came together.
Class 4A State Quarterfinals
Who: JDHS vs. Dimond.
When: 3:45 p.m. today.
Where: West Anchorage High School.
What's at stake: The winner advance to face either Colony or West Valley in the semifinals Friday. Also, the Class 4A and Class 3A state championship matches will be broadcast live at www.asaa.org.
Given so many opportunities to crumble, JDHS held firm and rose up to win.
"We definitely realized that even when we're in the worst situation, we can find our way out of it," junior hitter Kristie Ely said. "When we're in the most pain, we can find our way out of it, which I think was the big test for a lot of us last weekend."
The Crimson Bears (9-3) will open play in the Alaska School Activities Association State Volleyball Championships at 3:45 p.m. today against Dimond (15-2) at West Anchorage High School.
Next to two-time defending state champion South Anchorage, JDHS received perhaps the toughest draw in the tournament.
The Lynx are in the midst of a volleyball resurgence. Dimond is making its first stateappearance in four years and played tough in a loss to the Wolverines in last week's Cook Inlet Conference championship game.
Dimond is led by all-conference first-team selections Lauren Fulton and outside hitter Chauntel Tes. Second-team selections Deborah Morales and Taylor Adams also are dangerous players.
"I know they have a couple really good hitters," Hurtte said. "I heard they're a really good team, so it's exciting."
The state tournament also will be the end of the road for 11 Crimson Bears' seniors.
The majority of those athletes never played varsity volleyball prior to this season. Now they'll be competing for a state title.
"I don't think I'll ever forget the 'see-yas,'" senior Gloria Lumba said. Whenever a Crimson Bears player drops a ball during practice, one of the coaches will yell "see-ya." The call prompts all the Bears to run sprints immediately.
"I don't think I'll ever forget that," Lumba said with a laugh. "We always get real nervous about that, and there's no hesitation."
The Crimson Bears are guaranteed at least two games at the state tournament. The winners of today's game will face either West Valley or Colony at 3:45 p.m. Friday. The two losers of those matches will face each other in the consolation round at 9 a.m. Friday.
After Saturday's heroics against Ketchikan, though, Ely feels like the team already proved it could play, regardless of this weekend's outcome.
"I think we already made our goal because this is the best we've ever been for everyone individually and as a team," Ely said. "I think we're pretty great as a whole, and we actually bonded, which is the best you can get as a team no matter how the tournament works out."
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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