The Region V volleyball front runners met Friday night before several hundred fans at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain were a combined 16-1 against Southeast opponents this season. The crosstown schools both swept the season series against their only other conference opponent, Ketchikan, and were understandably excited to see how they stacked up against each other.
“We were so ready for it,” TMHS senior Kyra Jenkins Hayes said. “We’ve been talking about this all week. We’ve been preparing ourselves all week.”
That preparation showed in Friday’s match, as the Falcons defeated the Crimson Bears 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-9, 25-23) to improve to 8-1 and 5-0 in conference play.
Audrey Welling led the Falcons with 17 kills, 17 digs and eight aces. The senior rarely left the court for the Falcons in the four-set win, and her presence was especially noticeable in the decisive third set, when Thunder Mountain roared to a 15-2 lead with Welling, Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale and Tasi Fenumiai catching fire.
“Our hitters are beasts and we have a pretty deep-hitting bench because we can spread them out from right side and left side and middle,” TMHS coach Julie Herman said. “They hit really well tonight and that was good. I’m very happy with the spread that our setters put up and the way that our hitters delivered. I thought Lani (Eshnaur) in the back row had some pretty sweet digs tonight to save some emergency plays.”
Up until that point, the Falcons played catch up for the entire first game and parts of the second.
“We had really good communication, good momentum,” JDHS senior Skylar Hickok said of the start. “We were just really excited and putting it all out there.”
JDHS sophomore JoJo Griggs posted seven kills and senior Riley Stadt added 19 digs. Griggs was repeatedly challenged at the net by Jenkins Hayes and Lily Smith.
“As the night went on Thunder Mountain’s defense was just better and better,” JDHS coach Brandee Gerke said. “I was so impressed. It was hard for us to find the floor on their side of the court because they were covering it so well.”
The fourth set remained close throughout. Welling initiated a mini 4-0 run to break a 14-14 tie. The Crimson Bears trailed the rest of the game.
JDHS and TMHS played a second time on Saturday evening. The two schools will square off again in JIVE Tournament next weekend and also Oct. 26-27.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.