The 2016 Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza (JIVE) remains a sweet memory for the Thunder Mountain High School volleyball team.
“Being a new school and everything, we haven’t really won a lot of tournaments and competitions,” senior defensive specialist Leilani Eshnaur said. “That was the first time we ever won JIVE and it felt pretty great being a part of the team that year.”
Now, after winning another title last year, the Falcons could join Juneau-Douglas High School as the only two teams to three-peat at the tournament, which begins on Friday afternoon and lasts all-day Saturday.
Senior outside hitter Audrey Welling said playing loose was the key to past success.
“We were really just there to have fun and weren’t worried about winning,” she said. “I mean, of course we wanted to win, but we weren’t playing not to lose. We were playing because we wanted to have fun.”
Welling’s first JIVE experience wasn’t so idyllic.
“I went in during the wrong rotation,” Welling said with a smile. “So my first varsity game, I’m a freshman, and I totally screw up the lineup. I was like, ‘Coach is never going to let me back on!’ But it worked out.”
Seemingly all of Southeast volleyball — 10 teams in all — will be in the running for the crown this year: JDHS, TMHS, Ketchikan, Sitka, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Wrangell, Haines, Sitka, Klawock and Craig. The first serve is 2 p.m. with Ketchikan taking on Haines and Wrangell opposing Klawock at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. The Falcons play Haines at 2:30 p.m. and Crimson Bears play Petersburg at 3:30 p.m. in their first respective games of the tournament.
After each team has reached nine games (one set to 25), the squads with the six-best records with head to the Gold Bracket, which begins at 1 p.m. Saturday. The remaining four will play in the Silver Bracket, which starts at the same time and place.
Thunder Mountain finished pool play last year 5-4 but turned up the heat in the elimination round, defeating Mt. Edgecumbe 2-1, Sitka 2-0 and Petersburg 2-0. JDHS tied Sitka for the best pool play record (8-1), but was upset by Petersburg and Mt. Edgecumbe in the Gold Bracket.
The Crimson Bears have been nothing short of dominant at the tournament over the past two decades. Since the tournament began keeping records in 1997 — JIVE began in 1992 — JDHS has appeared in championship game all but four times: 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2017. JDHS has won the titles 10 times in that span, three-peating from 2004-2006.
TMHS coach Julie Herman grew up watching JDHS compete in the tournament before playing in it herself from 2000-2003.
“I always thought JIVE was the coolest tournament in town because I loved the name of it and I had very high respect for my coaches (who started the tournament),” said Herman, who won titles as a sophomore and junior. “The tournament was always something we looked forward to. To be able to host a big-time tournament in your community is huge and it’s a well-respected tournament and everybody from Southeast and sometimes up north wants to come be a part of it.”
28th Annual JIVE Tournament Schedule
Friday at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School
2:30 p.m. — TMHS vs. Haines
3 p.m. — TMHS vs. Wrangell
3:30 p.m. — JDHS vs. Petersburg
4 p.m. — JDHS vs. Sitka
4:30 p.m. — TMHS vs. Klawock
Friday at Juneau-Douglas High School
6 p.m. — JDHS vs. Mt. Edgecumbe
7 p.m. — JDHS vs. Ketchikan, TMHS vs. Craig
7:30 p.m. — JDHS vs. TMHS
8 p.m. — JDHS vs. Craig
8:30 p.m. — TMHS vs. Mt. Edgecumbe
9 p.m. — TMHS vs. Sitka, JDHS vs. Klawock
Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School
9 a.m. — TMHS vs. Ketchikan
9:30 a.m. — JDHS vs. Haines
10 a.m. — TMHS vs. Petersburg
11 a.m. — JDHS vs. Wrangell
1-7 p.m. Gold and Silver Bracket Play
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.