The Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball team scrapped its way to a fifth-place showing at the 2008 4A Volleyball State Championships in Anchorage over the weekend, thanks to another strong effort from the usual suspects and a few fresh faces.
The Crimson Bears rebounded from Thursday's opening loss to Skyview by grinding out a four-set win over Kodiak on Friday morning 25-16, 13-25, 25-20, 23-25.
Senior middle hitter Kristie Ely starred once again for Juneau-Douglas, as she cranked out 33 kills in the match. Thirteen of those came in the third set as she helped her team close out the tight battle.
"As usual, Kristie and Rachel (Peyton) had the really hard hits that we needed," junior setter Nia Maake said.
Peyton, also a senior middle hitter, finished with 10 kills of her own and matched Ely by converting 22 of her 26 pass attempts.
Former setter Krista Barril appeared more comfortable in her increased defensive role, as she led the team with 19 digs in the match. Maake, her replacement as the team's primary setter, chipped in 12 of her own.
"Nia did a great job all weekend," senior outside hitter Wendy Calderwood said. "She was hitting the ground for every ball. She was just always there and definitely ended up with the most bruises."
The Crimson Bears also reformed their struggling serves, as they kept 80 of their 87 total attempts inside the lines.
"It was a gutsy performance by our kids and a hard-fought match by both teams," coach Sandi Wagner said.
Friday's win ensured that JDHS would trump last season's sixth-place finish at the championships, and gave them an opportunity to move into the fourth slot when they took on Colony late Saturday morning. The Knights proved to be too much, though, as they closed out Juneau-Douglas in three sets 22-25, 15-25, 18-25.
"I don't think we had a certain placing in mind. It was just really fun to play the last games with the rest of this team and give it our all," Calderwood said.
Ely and Peyton led the way yet again by combining for 26 of the team's 29 kills from their central positions. Peyton also contributed some damage serving, as she kept 11 of her 12 attempts in.
Maake found her way to the floor quite a few more times as well, leading the defensive effort by getting under seven digs.
"What I think I'll remember is when (coach Wagner) took a time-out and told us to get every ball, and if we didn't get on the floor she was going to pull us," Calderwood said. "Those were the toughest and some of the funnest minutes we played this year. It's so much fun to work that hard as a team."
Ely, Peyton, Calderwood, Briana Donahue, Kyra Jones and Li'i Levale all played their final games as seniors over the weekend.
"(Sophomore) Sarah Tarver really did a good job at outside hitter when she got minutes and as a blocker up front," Maake said. "The young players played well, too, and we'll be back next year."