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On Saturday and Sunday, the Juneau Boys' Volleyball Club hosted three teams from Whitehorse in the Juneau Invitational Boys' Power Volleyball Tournament at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium.
Twelve members of the JBVC divided into two teams of six players and played a series of matches against three high school teams from Whitehorse. Porter Creek High School sent 17 players divided into two teams, and Vanier Catholic sent one team of 11 players.
Four years ago, the parents of some young men in Juneau approached Becky Robertson about forming a high school boys' volleyball team.
Robertson, a self-described "volleyball nut" who is active in the city's recreational volleyball league, had coached a co-ed volleyball team for the city of Juneau in the spring of 1998. She saw that there was a need and a desire for boys volleyball in Juneau, and agreed to take on the challenge.
"It used to be that the boys would play in middle school and then they'd have to stop," she said.
Juneau middle schools currently run a volleyball program that pits boys teams against each other. The program, according to Ryan Monagle, a Juneau-Douglas High School senior who was among the first members of the high school team, is "pretty serious," but it didn't offer a continuation when the boys moved to high school.
With a commitment on the part of Robertson, the generosity of JDHS athletic director and girls volleyball coach Sandy Wagner, who provided gym time, in addition to the interest of several boys and the involvement of their parents, the JBVC was born.
The effort paid off. The boys originally competed in Juneau Park and Rec's adult volleyball program in division three and this year, the boys challenged the division one teams. In addition to recreation league play, they began to test their skills against Canadian high school teams, where volleyball is a sanctioned high school sport.
"We traveled to Whitehorse in late September and played their teams, and now they are coming to Juneau to play us," said JBVC assistant coach Phil McMurray, who was recruited for his position two years ago.
Both Juneau teams went undefeated in the tournament. The JBVC White team, all of whom are on the Arctic Winter Games team, did not lose a single game. The JBVC Red team lost only three games during the tournament.
In addition to allowing the JBVC to compete with athletes their own age, the tournament served as training for the 2002 Arctic Winter Games held in Nuuk, Greenland, in which Alaska will send a boys volleyball team for the first time. McMurray will coach the Juneau boys for the games.
Most of the players on the Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska are JDHS students. Those players include: seniors Ryan Monagle, Craig Kitka and Eric Peterson; juniors Adam Peterson, Dmitriy Stepanov, Kyle Thibodeau, Andrew Croan; and sophomore Bryan Diebels.
Two team members, Aaron Larson and Jesse Blackwell, graduated from JDHS last year but are under the Arctic Winter Games age limit of 19.
Only two students currently live outside of Juneau, despite McMurray's statewide recruitment effort for the team. Collin Rielly, a junior on Team Alaska, played with the JBVC for two years before moving with his family to Angoon.
Jason Hemphill is a senior from North Pole who learned to play volleyball from two older sisters who currently play for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Hemphill was told about the team by the assistant women's volleyball coach at UAF, and tried-out via video and played for the first time at the tournament with Team Alaska.
Juneau Invitational Boys' Power Volleyball Tournament
Results from the Juneau Invitational Boys' Power Volleyball Tournament held on Saturday and Sunday at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium. Teams played as many games as possible in 50 minute with some exceptions.
JBVC White def. Porter Creek #1, 25-19, 25-4, 25-9 (3-0)
JBVC White def. Porter Creek #2, 25-14, 25-19, 25-14 (3-0)
JBVC White def. Vanier Catholic, 25-17, 25-12, 25-19, 25-17 (4-0) -- two-hour match
JBVC Red def. Vanier Catholic, 25-12, 25-20, 10-15 (2-1)
JBVC Red def. Porter Creek #1, 19-25, 25-9, 15-10 (2-1)
JBVC Red def. Porter Creek #1, 25-15, 25-4, 25-18, 25-13 (4-0) -- two-hour match
JBVC White def. Porter Creek #2, 25-12, 25-12, 15-10 (3-0)
JBVC White def. Porter Creek #1, 25-12, 25-20 (2-0)
JBVC Red def.Vanier Catholic, 25-28, 25-13, 10-5 (3-0)
JBVC Red def. Porter Creek #1, 24-26, 25-16, 15-8 (2-1)