Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Thunder Mountain volleyball team took one last tuneup on the road last weekend to Anchorage, playing Eagle River on Thursday and a host of teams in the Dimond/Service Tournament on Friday and Saturday. They will begin a final home stand against Ketchikan this week, including a senior night on Friday, and then prepare for the Region V Championships in Ketchikan Nov. 5-6.
“I would call it a successful weekend for us,” Thunder Mountain coach Julie Herman said. “We got to play Eagle River and they are the same type of team we are so it was pretty competitive.”
The Falcons defeated the Wolves 3-1 with set scores of 22-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-18.
TMHS totaled 52 kills in the match to ERHS’ 25, and 14 aces to seven. Junior Mallory Welling led with 21 kills, senior Sydney Strong nine, senior Molly Brocious and junior Moana Tuvaifale six apiece, sophomore Ashlyn Gates four, seniors Riley Harp and Solveig Wolter two apiece and sophomore Jayden Rosenbruch one.
Tuvaifale led with 28 service attempts, 22 points won and six aces. Welling, Strong and Brocious totaled 43 attempts, 24 points won and six aces.
Junior Talita Toutaiolepo picked up 22 digs, Strong 18, Tuvaifale 14, Welling and Brocious 12 apiece; Tuvaifale led with 26 assists and Brocious 22; and Wolter led with two blocks.
“That was a good way to go into the weekend,” Herman said.
On Friday night, the Falcons played Kenai, Chugiak, West Valley and South Anchorage in pool play of the Dimond/Service Tournament. They defeated Kenai 25-22, 28-26; split with CHS 11-25, 25-17; defeated WVHS 30-28, 25-6; and fell to SHS 19-25, 22-25. They were placed in the Silver Bracket of the tournament for Saturday due to total points scored, in which CHS had six more points than the Falcons.
The Falcons opened bracket play against Palmer, falling 22-25 and 9-25.
“Palmer ran a really fast offense,” Herman said. “And unfortunately we just couldn’t keep up with their pace.”
The Falcons next fell to Kodiak 22-25, 22-25.
“I know the kids are disappointed with the results of Saturday,” Herman said. “But what I told them was, ‘You know, a couple years ago we were trying to stay out of the Bronze Bracket and this weekend, this year, we have been disappointed if we don’t make Gold.’ And that just says the rise of our program and our standards and our girls' play.”
Herman said the team has been working on "what is our next job," not just hitting and transitioning but picking up the ball and getting ready for their secondary and third jobs.
“I’m calling it the flow of the game,” she said. “Just what is my next job after I do what I did right now. I think the kids are really starting to work on that because that just makes the flow of the game, since volleyball is so fast, it makes less errors. So we’re just working on the whole cohesive piece, working together really seamlessly.”
The coaches chose Tuvaifale as their player of the matches to be submitted to MaxPreps for that website’s Player of the Week recognition.
“Moana had a really good weekend,” Herman said. “She just ran a smooth offense at a high level.”
Strong led the Falcons in the tournament with 37 points on service and six aces; Brocious 24 pts, 2 A; Gates 22 pts, 2 A; Tuvaifale 16 pts, 4 A; Welling 14 pts, 2 A; Toutaiolepo 12 pts and senior Jorda Basaliso 2 pts.
Strong had 71 pass attempts, Welling and Toutaiolepo 61 apiece, Tuvaifale 25, Basaliso 19 and Brocious 15.
Strong led with 63 digs, Welling 51, Tuvaifale 48, Toutaiolepo 41, Brocious 39, Gates 18, Basaliso 16, Wolter one.
Welling led with 40 kills, Strong 28, Tuvaifale 23, Brocious 22, Gates 13, Wolter three, Harp two and Rosenbruch one.
Brocious led with 73 assists and Tuvaifale had 59.
The Falcons next host the Ketchikan Kings on Thursday and Friday. Varsity games are at 6 p.m. (JV 4:30). The Falcons senior night will be on Friday at 6 p.m. with the game following. Seniors recognized include Jorda Raine Basaliso, Solveig Wolter, Riley Harp, Molly Brocious, Sydney Strong, Ann-Alese Rentrop, Kylee Clauder and Neisha Calderon.
The Falcons are 4-2 in conference, Juneau is 4-2 and Ketchikan 0-4.
“We are looking forward to this weekend, honoring our seniors and spending time with our program and our fans,” Herman said. “And then post season is always fun, always surprising and really competitive.”
The Region V Tournament will be in Ketchikan Nov. 5-6.