If somebody had watched just the first midgame between Juneau’s two local high school volleyball teams Saturday night, they likely would have incorrectly guessed which team swept all six games during a two-night series on each of the school’s home courts.
Thunder Mountain High School, with a team of nine seniors, dominated nearly all of the games against a younger Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé squad, first at home on Friday night then on the JDHS court on Saturday. But while the local showdown wasn’t an complete indicator for JDHS of where they are, there were promising moments suggesting where they can get to.
After TMHS took a 9-0 lead in the first game Saturday night, JDHS stormed back to narrow the gap to 18-13 with a series of extended volleys between the teams that featured remarkable diving saves from some of the Juneau players. Among them was Nikki King, one of five seniors on the squad, who said there was a buildup of confidence during the rally.
“Once we started getting it we liked seeing the teamplay, kind of like ‘what’s going on?’” she said. “Then you kind of get really hyped and also start getting by with all the serves, and it started to be like ‘OK, we can do this.’ Like we actually get in the game.”
Thunder Mountain went on to win the first game 25-19, the closest match between the two teams during the two-night face-off, but King said there were still encouraging signs for the team looking at the season ahead.
“I feel like yesterday we were kind of trying to get our act together and we were really just trying to improve what we learned,” she said. “And tonight it was really like we kind of got the skill down, but we really just needed to work on games and things like the overall chemistry.”
Thunder Mountain won the subsequent games on Saturday by scores of 25-10 and 25-7, following wins on their home court Friday by scores of 25-16, 25-11 and 25-17. TMHS coach Julie Herman said after Saturday’s games she also sees some areas for her team to work on.
“I think tonight we had to stretch ourselves and our offense, and move our shots around. I think JD had a really nice defense through the night. And so every time we talked about different things that we wanted, different locations we wanted to hit to, we had to change our offense a little tonight.”
During the first-game rally by JDHS “there were some shots that we were hitting that were a little predictable,” Herman said. “I think their defense was reading it. So then we decided we talked about it and switched up our shots.”
The next Thunder Mountain games are at Ketchikan on Friday and Saturday. JDHS next plays home games against North Pole on Sept. 7 and Ketchikan on Sept. 8.