Players on the Glacier Bears volleyball team will be looking to boost senior co-captains Alisha Young and Riley Erekson at the season’s only home series this weekend. Best-of-five matches start 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s our only home series and it’s Senior Night (Friday), so we all want to give Riley and Alisha a really good chance to win,” said junior Libby Jacobson, the team’s setter.

Haines will face Craig, an important opponent and team they haven’t beat this year. The Bears will likely have to top the Panthers at the Southeast championship tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 1 to advance to state competition.

Haines beat Metlakatla and Wrangell at a recent tournament in Klawock, but lost to Klawock and Craig, dropping three straight games to each.

Klawock is dominating competition in the reconstituted 2A division this season, but Craig is within reach for the Bears, said coach Judy Erekson.

“They have an advantage over us in experience and height, but we can beat them if we get it all together. We need to get a block up and cover the (middle). It’ll be a challenge, but it should be a good match,” Erekson said.

Watch for Young’s quick release and serves and for Riley Erekson’s shots to poke holes in the Panther defense. “We might try adding another setter, and have two setters instead of one to have a stronger back row,” said Jacobson.

The team is hobbled a bit by the loss of freshman Kayley Swinton, its best blocker, who suffered a broken finger, Erekson said.

Besides Young, Erekson and Jacobson, the starting squad includes junior Jamie Messerschmidt, hitter and backup setter, junior Coral Bauer, outside hitter, senior Sam Lowe, middle hitter, and sophomore Megan Tuohy, defensive specialist.

Junior varsity players include freshmen Destinee Cowart and Corinna Hill, junior Adalee Lari, and seniors Ashley Hupp and Karlie Spud.

The home court advantage will be a rare relief for the squad, which has traveled twice to Prince of Wales Island this fall to compete.

This is the first year Haines has played in the Southeast 2A division, which includes Klawock, Craig, Metlakatla, Wrangell and Hoonah. Because of its dominance by schools to the south, the Bears have made long trips to compete.

Also, due to various factors, the Bears’ junior varsity squad hasn’t seen much play. Coach Erekson said she’ll try to change the schedule in her team’s favor next year by getting a tournament in Haines. “It’s just the transition (to a new division). We’re figuring things out.”

Erekson said she was hoping for a hometown turnout to boost the squad. Friday’s game will include dedication of the new gym floor.