Thunder Mountain’s Leilani Eshnaur dives for the ball against Juneau-Douglas at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Leilani Eshnaur dives for the ball against Juneau-Douglas at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Falcons cruise to senior night win

Thunder Mountain sweeps JDHS in final home game

The Thunder Mountain High School seniors know how return a favor.

Coaches Julie Herman and Robin Landes showered them with praises before their final home game on Friday night, and almost all of them had a hand in a 25-16, 25-13, 25-12 win over Juneau-Douglas.

Audrey Welling recorded eight kills and 15 digs, Marissa Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale had four aces and Kyra Jenkins Hayes added four blocks. The win clinched the No. 1 seed in the Region V Tournament and kept a perfect 8-0 conference record in play with one final game against JDHS on Saturday night.

“Having our last win on our home court, it’s really amazing,” Jenkins Hayes said.

JoJo Griggs led JDHS with seven kills and Shaylin Cesar had 11 digs in the loss.

Thunder Mountain struggled to assert itself to begin the game. The Falcons trailed by as many as two points before going up for good at 12-11. Leilani Eshnaur’s serves backed an 8-2 run to close out the set.

“I think in those first 10 points, a lot of our passes were behind the 10-foot line so we weren’t getting super good sets and our hits were off the net,” Herman said. “So our focus there for that mid-game was to get a better touch and get a nice, dime pass, so we could run an offense. It turned out to be just what we needed.”

With their passing cleaned up, the Falcons rolled in the next two sets. Juneau-Douglas lost senior Riley Stadt to a twisted left ankle midway through the second set, and Thunder Mountain’s hitters let loose on the Crimson Bears defense. The Falcons outscored the Crimson Bears 17-7 with Stadt on the bench.

“She’s a leader on the court so it definitely affects us not having her out there,” JDHS coach Brandee Gerke said. “It’s hard for many reasons, but I’m also hopeful this will be one of those tweak kind of things, that she’s up for playing tomorrow.”

Later on in the second set, senior Sydney Lee checked in for her first varsity minutes of her career. Herman said Lee was playing well on the junior varsity team this season, and deserved the call up.

“It was really awesome,” Lee said. “Julie did a great job of letting me in. I know she told me I could work up to it the whole season and I finally got to it.”

Thunder Mountain’s offense again shined in the third set. Three consecutive aces by Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale put TMHS 17-5 and Gerke called timeout one point later. The break in action slowed the Falcons, but not enough for JDHS to break into their double-digit advantage.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


Thunder Mountain’s Audrey Welling spikes the ball against Juneau-Douglas’ Shaylin Cesar at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Audrey Welling spikes the ball against Juneau-Douglas’ Shaylin Cesar at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain celebrates a point against Juneau-Douglas at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain celebrates a point against Juneau-Douglas at TMHS on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Sports

The Nogahabara Dunes spill into a lake 35 miles west of the village of Huslia as seen from the back seat of a Super Cub piloted by Brad Scotton of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based in Galena. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Sand dunes a unique Alaska landscape

NOGAHABARA DUNES — From a molded seat of sand dug into the… Continue reading

Fly fishing for salmon in the saltwater might reduce the opportunity to get quick limits, but there’s nothing like it. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Silvers on the fly

A school of a few dozen fish moved slowly through the teal… Continue reading

A common aerial wasp forages on cow parsnip flowers. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Cow parsnip flowers

Cow parsnip is known in our field guides as Heracleum lanatum, although… Continue reading

A roadside daisy displays a fasciated center. (Photo by Deana Barajas)
On the Trails: An odd plant malady, a clever duck, and more

I recently learned about a mysterious, relatively rare affliction of plants called… Continue reading

Juneau’s Jacob Thibodeau (right) takes a selfie with WSOP legend Phil Hellmuth in the background. (Photo provided by Alaska Sports Report)
Juneau’s Jacob Thibodeau and Mario Fata consistently cashing in at World Series of Poker

Anchorage pro Adam Hendrix remains Alaska’s most prominent poker player, but don’t… Continue reading

Heidi Reifenstein reaches Father Brown’s Cross to complete the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Trail Run on Saturday, setting a new women’s record for the 3½-mile race with a time of 37 minutes and 40 seconds. (Photo by Jeff Gnass)
A mother of a mountain: Heidi Reifenstein sets new women’s record for Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Trail Run

Longtime Juneau resident returns to peak form after taking break from racing while raising kids.

The Nogahabara Sand Dunes in the Koyukuk Wilderness Area west of Koyukuk River. (Keith Ramos / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Alaska Science Forum: Mystery of the glass tool kit in the sand

From space, the Nogahabara Dunes are a splotch of blond sand about… Continue reading

After a morning hike, a satisfying breakfast for under $20 hits the spot. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Food for thought

To my left is a man with a thick British accent who… Continue reading

A bumblebee pollinates the flower of shy maiden, which will turn upward soon afterward. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Flowers, showy and otherwise

The spring and summer flower show at Cowee Meadows (way out on… Continue reading

Athletes compete in a swim event at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center on Sept. 16, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: It’s OK to say an athlete failed at obtaining a goal

During the telecasts of the 2024 Olympic trials commentators stated that around… Continue reading

A brush turkey on a mound the size of a car (Flickr.com photo by Doug Beckers /CC-BY-SA-2.0)
On the Trails: Nest-building by male birds

Most birds build some sort of nest where the eggs are incubated.… Continue reading

Insects like these flies clinging to a tent seem to be in ample supply in Alaska’s boreal forest. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Insects of Alaska forest humming along

Recent long-term studies revealed a three-quarters reduction of insects in parts of… Continue reading