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 firstname.lastname@example.org.