Crimson Bears Sweep Falcons Nest in Three Sets

    Juneau-Douglas junior Carlynn Casperson (3) passes a ball as Thunder Mountain's Riley Harp (6), Moana Tuvaifale (12), Mallory Welling (2), Talita Toutailepo (13) and Molly Brocious (10) ready for action. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - One night after surrendering their home court in a loss the Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé Crimson Bears volleyball team turned the end lines at the nest of that same Thunder Mountain Falcons opponent in a three-set sweep 25-22, 25-19, 27-25.

      A new wrinkle in the Crimson Bears attack were the quick sets by junior Carlynn Casperson to senior Brooke Sanford which resulted in three of Sanford’s eight kills from her 27 attacks and three of Casperson’s 21 assists.

      “We worked on it a little bit last season but we couldn’t quite get it there,” Sanford said. “I think we kind of jumped into it really soon this season which really helped, especially with Carlynn being a new setter up here with us, and I think we kind of just went for it today.”

      Added Casperson, “We found the right timing and we got it to work. It felt great.”

      Casperson has become the top setter early in the season, touching the ball on every play.

      “It feels amazing,” she said. “I like that I have my team backing me up and they are getting me the good passes so I can get the right sets going and it’s great.”

    JDHS statistics showed Sanford with 17 service attempts for the Crimson Bears, sophomore Kiah Yadao 15, senior Paige Adams 13, Casperson and junior Ashley Laudert 11 apiece, and senior Merry Newman 7.

      “I think we went into that last set with a must win mentality,” Newman said. “It is so much easier to finish in three than have to go to a fourth or maybe a fifth set. I think everybody just gave it their all.”

      Newman also connected on two jump serves in the final set.

      “It is easier for me to get that over to be honest,” she said.

      Newman had 30 attacks, Sanford 27, Gates 12, Yadao 10, sophomore Mila Hargrave 8 and Adams 3.

      Casperson earned 21 assists, 1 K, 1 B, 1 D, 1 A; Newman had 8 kills, 2 digs and 1 block; Sanford 7 K, 7 D, 2 B, and 4 aces; Laudert 6 K, 2 D, 2 B, 1 A; Yadao 4 AST, 2 K, 8 D, 1 A; Hargrave 1 K, 1 B; Adams 5 AST, 1 K, 7 D, 3 A.

      “I think we can only go up from here,” Sanford said. “And I know that we have a lot more in us that we can improve on. I am excited to see how we improve on defense and up on the net attacking.”

      Casperson said playing Thunder Mountain steps up the competition.

      “They push us to be our best,” she said.

      Added Sanford, “We push them too so it is really fun to just come out here and play really good volleyball.”

      TMHS statistics showed senior Riley Harp with 15 serve attempts for the Falcons, junior Moana Tuvaifale 13, sophomore Ashlyn Gates and junior Mallory Welling 11 apiece, senior Sydney Strong 9 and senior Molly Brocious 8.

      Tuvaifale had 21 attacks, Brocious and Strong 20 apiece, Welling 18, Gates 15, Harp 8 and senior Jorda Bastalio 1.

      Brocious had 9 K, 1 B, 13 AST, 14 D and 1A; Strong 7 K, 4 B, 12 D, 2 A; Gates 4 K, 2 B, 2 A; Tuvaifale 4 K, 15 AST, 11 D, 2 A; Welling 3 K, 2 B, 4 D, and 1 A; Harp 2 K, 5 D, 2 A; and junior Talita Toutailepo had 12 D.

      “Just stay deep,” Toutailepo, a libero said. “Cover whatever I can cover and just be there for my team. We always push through. We support each other with confidence and support each other with love. On the court we are all sisters, off and on. We have open hearts for each other. Even if we lose or win we are still going to be sisters all the way.”

      The Falcons had leads of 5-0, 7-2, 9-3, 11-4 and 15-5 in the first set behind service from Tuvaifale, Harp, Welling, Brocious and Gates.

      Then the Crimson Bears went on a 20-7 run, tying the score as Sanford killed a shot for possession at point 15 and Newman killed 16. Sanford then served to 21 with four aces. Laudert added a block.

      The teams exchanged missed hits and service errors with JDHS ending the set on a Laudert serve that was misplayed for a 25-22 win.

      Thunder Mountain again took an early 6-0 lead in set two until Sanford killed for ball possession and Yadao served into a 7-6 advantage that included a block by Hargrave. The Crimson Bears took leads of 9-7 and 11-8 with Adams serving and increased that to 15-8 with kills by Laudert and an ace by Adams.

      Strong brought the Falcons from a 9-16 deficit to within three points, 13-17, in a spree that included her kill and ace and two kills from Tuvaifale.

       The Crimson Bears finished with leads of 19-14 with Casperson serving, 22-15 with Yadao serving, 23-16 behind Sanford, and 24-17 on a Newman kill before the Falcons Strong killed for 18 and Harp for 19.

      Laudert blocked the set point to keep the momentum in the Crimson Bears favor heading into the final set.

      There were no leads greater than three points in the final set. The Crimson Bears and Falcons tied the score 15 times.

      The Falcons’ Brocious and Strong blocked for a 19-18 advantage and Hargrave killed for 19 and Adams aced for 20.

      TM gained with a mishit, as did JD to tie at 21.

      Strong killed for Falcons’ 22 and a service error gave the Crimson Bears the tie.

      A Crimson Bears mishit gave TM 23 but Casperson quick set Sanford for a killing tie.

      Welling killed for Falcons’ 24 but a mishit tied the game for the Crimson Bears.

       A mishit by JD put TM up 25-24 and after a Crimson Bears time out Casperson again quick set Sanford for the tie at 25.

      Sanford jump served and forced the Falcons into a soft return that Newman killed for a 26-25 advantage. The Falcons called time out to ice Sanford but she aced the match winner for 27-25.

      Thunder Mountain coach Julie Herman said that, win or lose, it is just fun to compete.

      “You don’t always get to win every game that you play,” she said. “I do think that today JD brought a tempo that was faster paced than we were able to move our feet. And I think that is where a lot of our struggle came from. It is definitely something that we can adjust to. We talked about what we can do that we can be in control of and I think there are a lot of things. The kids are excited to work on those things. We always talk about wanting to walk off the floor with our heads held high win or lose. I think they showed that in the third set, realizing that if we end up finishing it in three we had to give it a run. And they battled and we are proud of them for that.”

    Above - JDHS' Brooke Sanford blocks a shot by TMHS' Mallory Welling. Below - TMHS' Talita Toutailepo sets the ball.

    Above - Falcons hitter Sydney Strong (11) challenges Crimson Bears blockers Ashley Laudert (16) and Mila Hargrave (8).

    Above - JDHS' Ashley Laudert (16) and TMHS' Ashlyn Gates (5). Below - TMHS' Riley Harp (6) hits against JDHS' Kiah Yadao and Ashley Laudert (16).

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