Sturdy defense and the strong hitting of one particular junior outside hitter helped the Thunder Mountain High School volleyball team defeat Sitka High School in the Lady Falcons’ season opener on Friday night.
After a tight first set, Thunder Mountain coasted past Sitka in sets two and three, winning 25-15, 25-21, 25-16, in front of a home crowd at the Thunderdome.
Thunder Mountain trailed 5-1 in the first set, struggling to pass the serves delivered by Sitka senior outside hitter Miah Dumag. Falcons coach Julie Herman didn’t call a timeout though, sensing her her players would respond on their own, which is just what happened.
“It’s early in season, we want to see what kind of strength they have out there amongst themselves and they were able to pull it off,” Herman said. “That was just a great server and we drilled on serve-receive, so I knew they would figure it out.”
Senior Leilani Eshnaur powered a 9-0 run in the middle of the set. Eshnaur began serving with her team trailing 11-8 and didn’t stop until Thunder Mountain shot ahead 15-11.
“Every time I just told myself I was going to get my serve over (the net),” Eshnaur said. “And it just ended up being something good.”
After closing the first set on a 10-3 run, TMHS controlled the second set. Junior Tasi Fenumiai contributed six kills, one ace and one block in the set while Sitka was hampered with six attack errors.
“I think we just got pushed back in our defense so much that it was hard for us to get a pass,” Sitka coach Natalie Voron said, “and then were under the gun with just trying to hitting the ball over. It was a little tough tonight for us, for sure.”
Fenumiai kept up the strong play in the third set. The junior capped a 13-4 run with a strong kill that ricocheted off the forearms of Dumag and into the hands of a spectator in the third row of the bleachers. Sitka fought back and made it 16-10, but Thunder Mountain didn’t give up any more ground, and maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
The two teams wrapped up the weekend series with a second match on Saturday at 3 p.m.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.