JDHS junior Mila Hargrave winds up to spike the ball while TMHS junior Ashlyn Gates attempts to deflect it. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

JDHS junior Mila Hargrave winds up to spike the ball while TMHS junior Ashlyn Gates attempts to deflect it. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Volleyball wraps up regular season

Region tournament set for Nov. 4 and Nov. 5

Both Juneau high school volleyball teams wrapped up their regular seasons with senior nights during cross-town play this past weekend.

Thunder Mountain High School hosted Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday night for TMHS’ senior night, and on Saturday, JDHS played host for its senior night.

“We got to honor nine of our seniors, outstanding gals,” said TMHS coach Julie Herman. “We had a really nice ceremony on Friday with all of their families and friends with speeches from the coaches, and it was just a really nice event, and then we got to play some volleyball which was awesome. We also honored junior Ana Scopel-Velho, she’s an exchange student from Brazil and she played with us this season, as well, so we were able to just celebrate her joining our program.”

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire 
Thunder Mountain High School seniors smile on the volleyball team’s senior night. Seniors recognized included Kaelin Tibbles, Mallory Welling, Samantha Mead, Tahila Kuma, Kiana Allen, Talita Toutaiolepo, Moana Tuvaifale, Mercedes Cordero and Elise Duran.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire Thunder Mountain High School seniors smile on the volleyball team’s senior night. Seniors recognized included Kaelin Tibbles, Mallory Welling, Samantha Mead, Tahila Kuma, Kiana Allen, Talita Toutaiolepo, Moana Tuvaifale, Mercedes Cordero and Elise Duran.

During the speeches, Herman noted that multiple seniors are legacy players — meaning that they had family members play in the program — which added emotion to an already charged Friday night game.

Herman said Friday night was especially important for TMHS because they were able to start and end their match with all of the honored seniors on the floor.

“We had trained for that this weekend, so I know the kids felt really great about it and their families felt really great about it, too, getting to watch their kids play on a special night elevates the game because there’s so much at stake and so much heart behind it, so Friday was just a really fun night for us.”

TMHS has nine wins and zero losses in the conference and JDHS has two wins and six losses in conference as the two varsity teams head into the regional tournament this weekend at JDHS, Friday, Nov. 4 to Saturday, Nov. 5. Ketchikan High School is the third-seeded team with two wins and seven losses in conference.

Herman said that the team’s main focus in moving into regions will be largely placed on the speed of their defense so that they can transition quickly into a fast offense. JDHS coach Jody Levernier praised the effort of all the Crimson Bears’ players and said that their main focus will be consistency and working together as a team.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire 
Juneau-Douglas seniors pose for photos after being honored at senior night on Saturday, Oct. 29. From left to right, those players are Natalie Wittlwer, Sandra Bouvier, Ashley Laudert, Kiyara Miller, Ava Olivit, Keelia Krick, Carlynn Casperson and Trisha Gonzalez.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire Juneau-Douglas seniors pose for photos after being honored at senior night on Saturday, Oct. 29. From left to right, those players are Natalie Wittlwer, Sandra Bouvier, Ashley Laudert, Kiyara Miller, Ava Olivit, Keelia Krick, Carlynn Casperson and Trisha Gonzalez.

“We’re starting to see them come together more, it’s been really hard for us for some reason this year,” Levernier said. “So, this week in practice we’re just going to be working more on working together as a team and supporting each other and I think this last weekend we saw that more with the kids. “We’re also looking for consistency, I feel like each game this weekend we had really good things that happened but they weren’t the same things and we need everything to click all at once. So, we’re just hoping for more of all of that next weekend at regions.”

TMHS C team didn’t beat JDHS on Friday night but did manage to come back in Saturday night’s game with a victory. Both JV and varsity teams for TMHS won both nights, with varsity winning in three out of five sets. Herman said that while there were many highlights from over the weekend, two stand out players in particular were junior Ashlyn Gates and senior Talita Toutailolepo.

“One thing that came in really big for us on Friday night was Ashlynn Gates, I kind of stopped counting after she got after I think she got over five blocks. She just was getting solo block after solo block and timing the middle on the opponent very well and that was huge for us to have a really strong defense at the net,” Herman said. “Talita Toutailolepo also had great games, she plays all the way around but when she was in the back row, she just passed at a really high level so we could run our offense and then had a really nice presence on the right side of the nets blocking and hitting.”

3A/4A Volleyball State Championships will be on Thursday, Nov. 10 through Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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