Senior Moana Tuviafale of Thunder Mountain High School (far right) was named to the all-tournament team at this year’s Spiktacular tournament this weekend at West Anchorage High School. From left to right, other players in photo are Hayden Inman of Chugiak High School, Liyah Pilgrim of Colony High School and Marija Wunnicke of South High School. (Courtesy Photo / Julie Herman)

Senior Moana Tuviafale of Thunder Mountain High School (far right) was named to the all-tournament team at this year’s Spiktacular tournament this weekend at West Anchorage High School. From left to right, other players in photo are Hayden Inman of Chugiak High School, Liyah Pilgrim of Colony High School and Marija Wunnicke of South High School. (Courtesy Photo / Julie Herman)

TMHS takes 3rd at Spiketacular tournament

The Falcons are ranked 3rd in the state

Thunder Mountain High School’s volleyball team recently returned from West Spiketacular tournament hosted by West Anchorage High School where they took third place.

“We’re just really excited, the West Spiketacular is where all the big teams come to play and get first looks at everybody and ending up third place out of 21, we’re just delighted that we’re playing at a high level with the top teams,” said coach Julie Herman.

On Thursday, the team traveled to Anchorage to take on the Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School Thunderbirds in a non-conference game. The Falcons came away with a hard-fought victory winning three sets to two. TMHS took the first set 25-15 with game point coming on a defensive block at the net by junior Jenna Dobson, East came back in the second set with an 18-25 victory. The team rallied to win the third set 25-19 with game point coming on an Ace by senior Moana Tuvaifale. East took the fourth set 21-25 setting up the decisive fifth set. The Falcons secured the road win by taking the fifth set 15-11 with set and match point coming on an emphatic kill at the net by senior Mallory Welling.

TMHS then stayed in Anchorage for the Spiketacular Tournament where pool play to determine brackets was carried out on Friday and Saturday morning and then bracket play started Saturday afternoon into the evening.

Herman said the way the tournament is set up is that seven teams are put into a pool and whoever has the most wins of all the tournaments makes the top eight “gold” bracket, with medium teams going into the silver bracket and the lowest winning teams going into the bronze bracket. Thunder Mountain was placed in the gold bracket along with the top eight teams and from there was able to carve out third place overall, with Colony High School coming in first place and West Anchorage in second place.

“We were just excited to be placed in the gold bracket, let alone knockout South High School, so we were just pretty excited about it all,” Herman said.

Senior Moana Tuvifale was named to the all-tournament team —a rare accomplishment for a TMHS player in the Spiketacular.

“They only selected four kids from our bracket, which had seven teams in it, which is like a hundred players, so she was four selected out of 100,” Herman said. “It’s a pretty big deal, I’ve actually not had an athlete make an all-tournament for West Spiketacular before, so we’re beyond proud.”

Other notable players were senior Mallory Welling and junior Ashlyn Gates, who Herman said came up big for the team for shutdowns in the middle.

“When we go up north, blocks move really fast, the offense of the other team is really fast, so our middles really did a great job controlling the net and putting up a high level of offense and pressure,” Herman said.

Thunder Mountain is now ranked third in the state for overall wins and conference record. Next, they play against Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé for a pair of in-conference, cross-town contests. Thunder Mountain first plays at JDHS at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and they’ll host Saturday, Sept. 24 at Thunder Mountain at 5:30 p.m.

“It was a great weekend of volleyball, the kids are excited. It’s nice to go up north and we’re appreciative of those who put the tournament on, so that a bunch of volleyball players can get together and play, so we’re just really grateful,” Herman said. “We’re looking forward to next weekend, as well, going into conference. We’re just playing some high level ball and we’re excited.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at

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