Thunder Mountain’s Letasiilemilion Fenumiai, left, hits against Sitka’s Joei Vidad, center, and Abby Forrester at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Thunder Mountain won 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-16) (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Letasiilemilion Fenumiai, left, hits against Sitka’s Joei Vidad, center, and Abby Forrester at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Thunder Mountain won 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-16) (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Falcons volleyball win nail-biter over rivals

The Thunder Mountain High School volleyball team defeated Juneau-Douglas High School for the second straight night on Saturday at TMHS.

Junior Tasi Fenumiai had 14 kills and sisters Marissa and Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale assisted on over 40 points in a 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 win. TMHS (9-1, 6-0 SEC) downed JDHS (10-4, 4-2 SEC) 3-1 on Friday night downtown.

“The kids played at a high, intense level tonight but they were relaxed,” TMHS coach Julie Herman said. “That’s where you want them to play. … JD has always been such a strong program that we talk about respecting every point, and every game and every match.”

Two out of the three games turned into who could score four points the quickest. In the second set, the Falcons rallied from a nine-point deficit to tie the game at 21-21. In the third set, after going down 10-3, Juneau-Douglas stormed back to tie the game at 16-16. Ten points later, the game was tied once more at 21-21.

TMHS playmakers rose to the occasion each time. Fenumiai spiked a ball to seal the second game, and Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale hit a scorcher in the next game for match point. Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale said team’s cohesiveness is the real deal.

“Off and on the court we’re just always together and bonding,” she said. “It’s never ending.”

Griggs led JDHS with seven kills and three blocks and junior Addie Prussing had four kills and 14 digs.

JDHS came out strong in the second game and built a comfortable 14-5 lead that forced a TMHS timeout. The Falcons then went on a 9-2 run which led to JDHS calling a timeout of their own. The Crimson Bears promptly widened their lead to 20-15 and generated some short-lived momentum after a ferocious spike by Griggs made it 21-19. TMHS scored six of the next nine points on Fenumiai’s stellar play.

“She evokes a very high level of fear, I think, from another team,” Herman said. “So that’s why she can just get up and whale the ball, and then she can get up and tip it.”

JDHS coach Brandee Gerke thought her team played great over the weekend, but also acknowledged there is more work to be done.

“We’re going to work a lot more on blocking,” she said. “When you have a team with such a strong offense like this, if you don’t have a strong block up there, you just have to be in exactly the right place or you’re probably not going to dig the ball.”

Coming up next

The JIVE Tournament begins Friday afternoon at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. JDHS and TMHS will be joined by Ketchikan, Klawock, Petersburg, Sitka, Haines, Wrangell and Mt. Edgecumbe at the tournament. DHMS hosts the first six games before the action moves to JDHS. Bracket play begins on Saturday afternoon. The championship game will be played at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.

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