By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves advanced to the semifinals of the annual Juneau JIVE volleyball tournament recently.
The Lady Braves went 8-4 in opening round matches to advance to the elimination bracket. The Lady Braves then held on beat Sitka High in the quarterfinals, before falling in three games to Juneau-Douglas.
MEHS coach Rich Calkins said his team was a bit hesitant at the start of the tournament, but they started to play more aggressively as the games went on, a good sign for the Lady Braves with less than a month to go in the 2011 season.
“When we come out and don’t swing and be aggressive, teams will be able to play us tough,” Calkins said. “When we ratchet up our offense and be aggressive is when we have the most success.”
The Lady Braves, playing without starter Donnita White, lost Brenna Johanson when the senior rolled an ankle Oct. 8, the second day of the tournament at Juneau-Douglas. The injury forced Calkins to change his line-up, but he said he was happy with the way MEHS finished up the tournament after a hesitant start against Petersburg and Craig. He particularly liked the way the MEHS girls played against Juneau, Palmer and Eagle River.
“We’re not a program built on moral victories,” Calkins said. “We don’t look at it as they’re 4A schools and we came close. We look at it like the girls stood up against some very solid competition.”
He added: “We still have work to do.”
The tournament began with the 13 teams playing round-robin games. Mt. Edgecumbe was 5-1 in the opening games.
The Lady Braves beat Thunder Mountain (25-13, 25-13) and Haines (25-20, 25-11) and split with Palmer (25-16, 17-25). After the first round of pool play, the teams were re-seeded and once again put into pools. This time, the Lady Braves were 3-3.
The Lady Braves split with Petersburg (23-25, 25-21), dropped two to Eagle River (19-25, 20-25) and swept Craig (25-22, 25-13)
The Lady Braves then advanced to the 8-team elimination bracket, with a quarterfinals match against Sitka High.
MEHS fell behind 20-9 in the opening game against Sitka before Aquilina Active took the ball and served 9 straight points. Still trailing 21-19, Mariah Martin finished off the rally for the Lady Braves, who won the game 25-22. The Lady Wolves rallied to force a rubber match with a 27-25 win in the second game. The Lady Braves led that game 24-21, but were unable to hold off the SHS rally, Calkins said. The Lady Braves then closed out the match with a 15-7 win. The loss eliminated Sitka, while the Lady Braves advanced to play host Juneau-Douglas in the semifinals.
The Crimson Bears won the first game 25-19, but MEHS battled back with a 30-28 win in the second game. In the final game, Juneau won 15-9 to advance to the championship game. The Palmer Moose ended up taking the tournament title with wins of 27-25 and 25-19 over Juneau.
Mt. Edecumbe’s Maggie Okakok each made the all-tournament team. With the JIVE tournament in the books, the Lady Braves will once against turn their attention to winning the Southeast Conference regular season title. MEHS is 5-1, with six matches remaining before the Region V tournament Nov. 3-5 in Juneau. Calkins said the Lady Braves want to enter the tournament as the top seed. They will travel to Metlakatla and Wrangell for matches this month, with a home-and-home series with Sitka High also on the schedule.
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