Underdogs Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé entered the volleyball state championships on Thursday with an early lead, but swiftly fell to a stronger, more experienced team.
The Crimson Bears lost 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-7) to the South Anchorage High School Wolverines at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
“They’re young, so this is great experience for them,” JDHS coach Jody Levernier said. “We played some of the bigger schools already this year, and we’ve had our work cut out for us.”
In the first set, the Crimson Bears led early but allowed a 9-2 run by the opponent that set them back six points. JDHS twice cut its deficit to just four points before watching South close out the set on a 7-3 run.
South took control in the second set with a 9-1 start and maintained a tight grip on the match the rest of the way.
“We started missing some serves and just kind of fell apart a little bit,” Levernier said. “So I think it’s just the whole mental game. It’s a big deal up here, and we lost sight of that a little bit.”
JDHS junior Jojo Griggs had six kills, sophomore Brooke Sanford had five kills and senior Addie Prussing had nine digs in the loss. Junior Kiana Potter chipped in three aces and six digs. Griggs, Prussing and Potter are the only Crimson Bears with prior state tournament experience.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Robinson and junior libero Kylie Hurd were the stars for the Wolverines, with Robinson’s hitting power and Hurd’s defense and serving proving too much to handle.
The Wolverines have six past state championships under their belt, claiming the title in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
JDHS went 9-6 in best-of-five matches in the regular season this year, but improved as the season went on. In a huge upset, after losing to crosstown rival Thunder Mountain High School four times during the season, JDHS defeated TMHS last week in a 30-24 tiebreaker to win the regional title. They last captured the regional title in 2017.
It’s been 17 years since JDHS has won the state title, back in 2002. The Crimson Bears last appeared in the event in 2017, when they went 1-2 to finish tied for fifth with Soldotna.
JDHS will now face elimination when it plays at 10 a.m. Friday against Palmer, who fell to Bartlett 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-17). South played Bartlett in the quarterfinals later Thursday. Wasilla, who knocked off North Pole 3-0 (25-8, 25-11, 25-16), played the winner of an afternoon match between Dimond and Soldotna later in the night.
“I think we can definitely be more aggressive and want ever single point and not let anything touch the ground tomorrow (Friday),” Griggs said.
South Anchorage also played in their region championship game on Saturday last week but came up short against reigning state champion Dimond in four sets: 25-22, 30-28, 19-25, 25-19.
🏐Good morning ASAA fans! 3A/4A games are under way! Check out the brackets here 👇 PS: The ASAA Volleyball tournament is FREE PARKING! See you throughout the weekend!🏐 #Alaska #ASAA @ASAA_org pic.twitter.com/SJcupkyagX— AK Air Center (@AKAirCenter) November 14, 2019
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