One local high school volleyball team was undefeated while the other was winless entering a tournament in Sitka on Thursday. But both teams are showing they can compete, or be vulnerable, as they face off against seven other teams from around the state in the Southeast Super Slamma Jamma Volleyball Tournament that continues through Saturday.
Thunder Mountain High School entered the tournament with an 8-0 record winning 24 of its 26 sets played. That includes two straight-set wins in home-and-away games last weekend against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, which before Thursday was 0-7 in games with a 1-21 record in sets.
For both teams, it’s a reflection of how the prospects for their seasons appeared when they faced each other with similar results four weeks ago. TMHS has nine senior players following last year’s fourth-place finish at state, while more than half of JDHS’s varsity is new to the squad.
“I think we’re right on,” said TMHS coach Julie Herman when asked Friday to assess the season so far. “I think we grow every time we play. I think that I’m enjoying watching them develop as we face competitive teams and how they handle the competition. And we grow every time that we play. So I’m really looking forward to today — we’ve got some tough lineups coming at us. And just looking forward to continue watching it. Even though it’s wrapping up on September it’s still fairly early in the season because there’s a lot of tournaments coming up.”
The Falcons are third among the nine tournament teams after Thursday’s matches, with a 5-1 record in sets played. They beat Nome by scores of 25-20 and 25-12, JDHS by scores of 25-10 and 25-9, and split sets with Palmer 18-25 and 25-19.
JDHS is 0-6 in sets after the first day of the tournament. But they opened with a closely fought battle against Nome, losing 23-25 and 25-27, then stayed competitive with current top-place team Mt. Edgecumbe by scores of 17-25 and 19-25 before their matchup against TMHS.
Both local teams are scheduled to play five more matches apiece on Friday, with bracket play in the tournament starting Saturday. The top five teams will play in the King Salmon Division, with the other four in the Coho Salmon Division.
The tournament games are being livestreamed and available on demand at Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s YouTube channel.
Tournament play will continue next weekend for both Juneau teams with the 2023 West Spiketacular Tournament in Anchorage, which is scheduled to include 21 teams next Friday and Saturday. Herman said the current tournament shows the Southeast region should fare well looking ahead to statewide and tournament play in the coming weeks.
“I am absolutely pumped that Ketchikan is so strong, and Sitka is so strong and Mt. Edgecumbe is so strong,” she said. “We’re just getting some really good volleyball here in Southeast. And that’s always been my dream, that Southeast just puts up some amazing volleyball. It really feels this year that the teams are competitive.”