A key time out in the middle of the second game turned around a dispirited start by the Ketchikan High School volleyball team, but it wasn’t enough to get them past Juneau-Douglas Yadda.at Kalé. The Lady Kings were eliminated by the Crimson Bears 25-9, 25-14, 26-24 in the Region V tournament on Saturday in Juneau.
Before the timeout in the second game, Kayhi appeared listless and had been outscored 39-12 overall in the match. After the timeout they picked up the intensity and made a solid effort at every ball, playing the Crimson Bears even the rest of the match, but falling short in the third game.
“I called the time out and said, ‘Hey the game starts now’” Ketchikan coach Arnold Ibias said. “I had to change the way we were thinking or else we might as well just given up. They all of a sudden started playing well. If I can find the right things to say, they listen. I just need to figure out what to tell them.”
The Lady Kings held a match point in the third game, serving at 24-23, but Juneau won a point on a sideout with senior Ashley Laudert getting a kill after a long rally.
With Juneau serving at 24-24, Molly Sivertsen had a big block, but the Crimson Bears dug the ball up and earned a point then finished the game off on a hit by Kiah Yadao that just barely curled inside the back line. The ball looked like it was headed out, but dropped at the last second.
“Going into the third game we talked about just playing well, whether we win or lose, to just give it everything we had,” Ibias said. “I told them to just leave it all out on the court. I hate that saying, but I ended up using it and that is what they did. I was not disappointed in their effort at all.”
After picking up the level of play in the second half of Game 2, the Lady Kings used a six-point run in the middle of Game 3 to build a 13-6 lead.
A big hit by Bella Zink started the rally. She then served for six straight points. She hit a service winner prompting Juneau to call time out with the score 10-6, then hit another service winner immediately after the time out.
“That was a big hit and provided a big spark, too,” Ibias said. “Volleyball is such a swing sport that if you can get a kill and another point right after it can give you the momentum.
“Bella decided to hit the ball a little harder than she has been (on her serves). She had been kind of doing a float serve, but she decided to serve hard and that was the difference for her. In the first two games she was playing cautious, just getting the ball over. In the third game, she decided to let it all hang out.”
Juneau rallied to tie the score at 15 and the third game went back and forth the rest of the way. The Crimson Bears held a 22-20 lead before a missed serve followed by a kills by Kayhi’s Taylor Jackson and Sivertsen helped give the Lady Kings a 23-22 advantage. A service error by Juneau gave Kayhi a side out and the chance to serve for the match at 24-23, but the Crimson Bears managed to stave off defeat with some good defense, digging up a pair of solid Kayhi hits. The Crimson Bears survived, but the Lady Kings made them work for it.
At the start of the match the Lady Kings weren’t getting to loose balls and Juneau seemed to be on its way to a methodical sweep. Juneau jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the opening game en route to a 25-9 victory and was ahead 14-3 in the second game before Ketchikan started fighting back.
“They felt the pressure for sure. They knew what the game meant, that if you lose you are done. They definitely felt that going in,” Ibias said. “I tried to make the warmup light and cheery to keep their minds off it, but as soon as the whistle blew you could see the shoulders tense up and the hesitancy.”
With the match quickly getting out of hand, the Lady Kings did regroup, but weren’t able to extend the match.
“The big thing has been making them realize this is just volleyball. If you just play, good things will happen,” Ibias said.
Juniors Jackson (17 assists, three kills) and Bella Zink (three ace serves, two kills, one block) continued to lead the Lady Kings, but a number of other younger players contributed on Saturday.
Sivertsen, a sophomore, had a big day with six kills and freshman Chelsey Weber added five kills. Freshman Payton Hagan had three kills and an ace serve, and freshman Addisen Zink had three service aces. Freshman Morgan DeLaet added a block.
“We had people that don’t normally get in the game, come in and contribute,” Ibias said. “I called on two of them to come in and serve and try to get momentum. Addison Lewis and Arlinn Felarca came in cold off the bench and under pressure had good serves. Payton Hagan did well in the front row and with her serving.”
Ibias took over the team early in the year after initial coach Kevin Johnson left the team. The team dealt with mid-season roster turmoil that saw Ketchikan lose many of its veteran players, winding up with a squad that was half filled with freshmen.
“The biggest thing I told them is that I was proud to be able to coach them,” Ibias said. “They put up with a lot of adversity. This whole coaching staff is proud of them sticking with it and believing in what we were teaching them. I was just happy to have the opportunity to coach them.”
Taylor made the All-Conference for the Lady Kings.
“She was the heart and soul of the team,” Ibias said. “Without her we wouldn’t have been able to do 75 percent of the things that we were able to do.”
Thunder Mountain beat Juneau-Douglas 25-26, 25-15, 25-12 Saturday evening to win the Region V championship and will represent the region at the ASAA 4A State Volleyball Championships in Anchorage. Thunder Mountain meet Colony at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday in its opening match.