Crimson Bears spike KayHi for Region V 4A crown

JDHS volleyball dumps Lady Kings twice to punch state ticket

Posted: Sunday, November 09, 2008

Who's inconsistent? Not these Crimson Bears.

The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team swept past Ketchikan with a pair of three-set wins over Friday and Saturday to take the 4A title, and their ticket to state, in convincing fashion at the Region V Championships in Craig.

The Bears finished the season a perfect 6-0 against the Lady Kings, their only opponent in the region's 4A bracket after Sitka dropped to 3A. JDHS powered through Friday's action with a 25-14, 25-16, 25-10 sweep, and then recovered from a tough first set Saturday to win 26-24, 25-17, 25-16.

Juneau-Douglas kicked off Friday's opening match with a bang, keeping all 24 of their serve attempts and 32 of their 36 hits inside the lines during the first set.

"It was all flowing - we came out with our guns blaring and everything was in," senior middle hitter Kristie Ely said. "We've been waiting for this chance for a long time, we were extremely pumped up and nothing was going to stop us."

Assistant coach Dale Bontrager said the match was the team's "most consistent of the year, by far," and pointed to the team's communication as a major source of confidence.

Senior middle hitters Rachel Peyton and Ely picked up nine kills between them in the opening set, finishing with 24 on the night.

Senior outside hitter Wendy Calderwood kept all nine of her serves on the court in the first set. She also stepped up later to finish the Lady Kings, serving out the final 13 points of the third.

"Everything was just on (Friday) - our hitting, our digging, our blocking, our serving," junior Krista Barril said. "Our team's good as individuals, but all of us put it together and we were even better as a team."

Juneau-Douglas doubled their normal formations from three to six in practice last week to throw off the predictability that often comes from regional play. Barril, the team's primary setter for most of the year, played a big role in the new look as she focused more on hitting and defense - areas where her coaches credited her immediate impact.

Saturday started on a far different note, as the Crimson Bears actually trailed for much of the opening set before breaking through in seesaw action for the 26-24 win.

"Being able to pull that out really gave us our confidence back," assistant coach Dale Bontrager said. "Getting past that crazy first set was really a key for us (Saturday)."

JDHS' new offensive sets were designed to free up Ely and Peyton in the middle, and it appears to be working. Peyton finished with 10 kills in Saturday's first set to pull out the win, finishing with 16 on the day. Ely smacked nine of her own in the third set to finish Ketchikan, ending with 18 in the match.

The Crimson Bears will leave Juneau next Wednesday as the 2008 3A/4A Volleyball State Championships begin at West Anchorage High School on Thursday and extend through Saturday.

"We'd really just like to see more of the same at state," Bontrager said. "We'll keep all the new sets in our gameplan - we'll need to use everything we've got. It's a different style of ball up there, but we've seen them before and we know we can play with them."

Peyton, Ely and Nia Maake were named to the region's 4A All-Conference Team. Peyton and Calderwood were named to the All-Sport Team. Peyton, Calderwood, senior Briana Donahue and senior Kyra Jones were named to the All-Academic team.

Peyton also won the regional passing competition, while Kalea Chapman won the serving competition.

Mount Edgecumbe players, who have given the Bears more than a little trouble this season, won Region V's 3A crown.

"(Mount Edgecumbe) just dominated this season," assistant coach Pat Gorman said. "It wasn't even close."

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