Thunder Mountain High School’s perfect streak of sets this season came to an end in the Falcon’s most dramatic win of the year, while Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé also provided heightened drama trying to end its winless streak as the volleyball teams for both schools hosted out-of-town visitors this weekend.
The Falcons soared to 5-0, winning all of their games in three-set sweeps, entering Saturday night’s game against Ketchikan High School. But TMHS lost the first set and found itself down 2-1 in sets before rallying the win the final two and the game — with a series of remarkable saves and scores during the final few points allowing the Falcons to prevail in the close finale.
“I think we just started out with too much nerves and we weren’t talking,” said Jayden Rosenbruch, a senior playing her second season on the varsity team. “We didn’t have enough energy and we were inside of our heads. And we were getting down on ourselves. But after we were talking as a team and we were figuring out what we’re doing, and we had to push it and we had to win at the net.”
“Our headspace is we really just started helping each other out and picking each other up. Our serves got better (and) I think overall we were just working better as a team.”
TMHS has a much easier time against North Pole High School on Friday night, prevailing in straight sets by scores of 25-16, 25-18 and 25-6.
The JDHS Crimson Bears, meanwhile, showed more fight by taking its first game of the season beyond three sets on Friday night against Ketchikan, before losing in four sets that were all decided by margins of five to eight points. JDHS lost in straight sets on Saturday night to North Pole, but took the visiting team to an extended 28-26 first set before being defeated 25-16 and 25-15 in the subsequent sets.
“We had moments of brightness and things to work upon,” JDHS coach Jody Levernier said after Saturday’s game.
The two local schools are scheduled to battle each other at 7:30 p.m. Friday at JDHS and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at TMHS. The Falcons won both games in a similar two-game series to open the season.
The weekend’s highlight five-set game putting TMHS against Ketchikan was a rematch of two games in Ketchikan the previous week, with the Falcons sweeping both in mostly close-scoring sets.
But Ketchikan came out strong early on the Falcons home court, taking a sizeable early lead. TMHS rallied to narrow the margin before losing its first set of the season 25-17. The Falcons reasserted themselves with an early lead in the second set, but Ketchikan rallied to a 17-17 tie before the home team evened the game with by a 25-21 score.
Ketchikan regained the lead with the hardest-fought set of the game, prevailing 25-22. TMHS responded by showing some of the dominance that typified earlier games this season, winning the fourth set 25-15.
The fifth set came down to a few dramatic plays including an improbable save by TMHS sophomore Braith Dihle with the score 12-12 that led to a Falcons point, sparking the visibly emotionally charged home team to score the next two points to claim the set and the game.
“I thought this game was a really fun one to play, just because of the back-and-forth, so I really liked how we were able to come back up,” she said. “This wasn’t my best game performance-wise — I’ve had other games where I felt like I’ve been more on — but vibe-wise I really liked this game.”
The hugs and celebrations among the Falcons players and in the stands continued well after the final point, as helpers were taking down and storing equipment.
“I love it when we get to play five-set matches and they come out on top because it shows the heart that the kids have the determination,” said TMHS coach Julie Herman. “It was high-level volleyball, they had a lot of composure because Ketchikan came hard and came full-strength, so that was a great win.”
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 957-2306.