Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - In a battle of thunder-fisted front lines the Thunder Mountain High School volleyball team and visiting Colony scorched the TMHS nets in a five-set match that saw the Falcons fall to the Knights 25-19, 23-25, 25-8, 19-25, and 15-6 on Thursday.
“Oh man, I was so excited to get to play them again,” Thunder Mountain coach Julie Herman said. “We showed moments of really good things out there and things that we still want to work on.”
The score was tied eight times in set one with Colony taking the advantage for the final time at 15-14 on a kill by Liyah Pilgrim. Kills by Kaylee Janulek, Pilgrim and Alyvia Davis kept the pressure on the host Falcons.
TMHS senior Sidney Strong killed a shot to close to within three at 19-16 and sophomore Ashlyn Gates served to within 20-19 with kills by Strong and junior Mallory Welling. A mishit gave Colony service and Janulek closed out the game with an ace, a TMHS error and kills by Tatum Shelton and Pilgrim for the 25-19 win.
In game two the Falcons had an 8-3 advantage on kills by Welling, junior Moana Tuvaifale and sophomore Jayden Rosenbrinch before a mishit gave Colony’s Pilgrim service and kills by Davis and Taylee Weiss closed the Knights within a point at 8-7.
After exchanging mishits the Knights took a 11-9 lead with Zoe Caldarea serving .
Rosenbrinch killed a shot to close the Falcons to 11-10. The teams would exchange short runs with the Falcons working service to a 17-16 advantage that included an ace and two kills by Welling.
Pilgrim killed for Knights service and Abby Gooch served to a 21-17 lead.
Gates regained service to brought the game to 21-21. After Davis and Weiss put Colony up 23-21, Thunder Mountain benefited from a service error to pull within a point, 23-22, and Tuvaifale served out the game with an ace and kills by Rosenbrinch and Welling for the 25-23 win.
“Mallory comes up with some big swings for us every time that she plays,” Herman said. “That makes her to be able to have her hit game and then her short game. It keeps it unpredictable. And she is working on the net presence. We want Mallory with her vertical reach and her block reach to be able to shut hitters down and it’s really fun when she gets to do that.”
Colony provided most of the action in game three, taking leads of 7-3 and 16-5, before closing out with a 25-8 win as Davis, Pilgrim and Cali Ousley brought all their height to the net.
“It wasn’t that scary,” Welling said. “We have faced people that are tall before, like in the Anchorage tournament. I mean, it’s intimidating but if you are getting up over, if you are playing smart it’s not a problem at all. I think in this match specifically we were just struggling with the energy. So I think to get past Colony we need to bring it. Right in the beginning we need to bring the energy, we need to communicate a lot more and just get our passes. I think once we get down the rest will fall in place.”
The Falcons would bring it in game four and the two sides exchanged five ties until the Knights held an 18-17 advantage.
A mishit tied the score and Welling served to a 22-18 lead that included kills by Strong, and seniors Brocious and Riley Harp.
A mishit gave Colony point 19 but they returned the favor for TMHS’ point 23 and Harp served out the match with a Colony error and then an ace for the 25-19 win.
The Knights took a 7-2 lead in the final set and worked that to a 12-5 advantage before Mia Hinchberger served out the match with a kill by Pilgrim and a scoring tip by Gooch for the 15-6 match win. Strong killed three of the TMHS points, Tuvaifale and Gates one each.
Unofficial stats for the Falcons included Welling with 11 kills; Strong 10 kills and an ace; Tuvaifale six kills and an ace; Gates five kills, two blocks and two aces; Brocious five kills; Rosenbrinch four kills; and Harp two kills and an ace.
For Colony, Davis had 14 kills and three blocks; Pilgrim 10 kills, two aces and one block; Weiss 11 kills and an ace; Shelton five aces and one kill; Gooch three kills and an ace; Janulek three aces, one kill and one block; Ousley two kills and two blocks; and Caldarea, Cheyenne Wetlesen, and Hincheberger one ace each.
“We brought a really nice offense and we are working on our set spreads,” Herman said. “And I thought Colony packed a pretty nice punch offensively and sometimes we couldn’t answer that with our defense. So when we get to face them again this weekend I am hoping we will bring a higher level defense and get to play with them more. I knew it was going to be a close match and I was excited about that. Obviously we wanted to come out on top but you can’t always, we have to keep working for it.”
Thunder Mountain and Colony will play in the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza hosted by the Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears. Play begins today at 2:30 p.m. through 9 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. Ten varsity teams are competing.