Thunder Mountain had yet to play teams from the volleyball hotbed in Southcentral before this week. The Falcons had fared well against Southeast schools, and were ready to see how their best stacked up against the state’s best.
“My big thing is that I want to run a program that when we come up to Anchorage, the teams respect us,” TMHS coach Julie Herman said. “Not saying that we have to win, but I want our kids to earn that respect.”
The Falcons did a little of both — winning and soliciting respect — with their fifth-place showing at the Dimond Service Volleyball Tournament on Friday and Saturday in Anchorage.
The tournament starts out with pool play Friday. Thunder Mountain finished 5-3 in Pool A to take second and make it to Saturday’s Gold Bracket. In Friday pool play, the Falcons won 25-22, 25-17 over Homer, 25-22, 25-21 over West Valley, split 25-16 and 22-25 with East and lost 25-13, 25-7 to Dimond.
In the Gold Bracket on Saturday, Thunder Mountain lost to South 25-8, 25-20 before topping Wasilla 25-21, 16-25, 16-14 in consolation. The Falcons then lost to Bartlett 25-21, 25-21.
It is the program’s first-ever top-eight finish at the tournament, which starts out with 20 teams.
“I was just expecting to get a high seed in the Silver Bracket,” senior Kyra Jenkins Hayes said. “But then (with) how we played, we ended up in the Gold Bracket, which was a pretty big accomplishment.”
Juneau-Douglas didn’t fare quite as well, finishing last in Pool C with a 1-7 record. Friday, the Crimson Bears lost 25-19, 25-22 to Kenai, lost 25-16, 25-15 to Service, lost 25-17, 25-11 to South, and split 18-25 and 29-27 with Kodiak.
The Crimson Bears fell to Soldotna 25-23, 25-21 and Lathrop 25-23, 25-21 on Saturday to take second in the consolation portion of the Bronze Bracket. JDHS coach Brandee Gerke said inconsistent serving hurt the team, but the Crimson Bears didn’t let it sap their spirit.
“So even though we got into some slumps we were good about rebuilding our energy,” Gerke said.
TMHS and JDHS close out the regular season this weekend with two big conference matchups. The Falcons host the Crimson Bears on Friday night at 8 p.m. before playing at JDHS on Saturday night. The Region V Tournament is the following weekend at JDHS.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.