In a fan-enthused five-game match, the Thunder Mountain High School Falcons fell to Ketchikan 25-20, 25-16, 16-25, 20-25, and 15-13 on Thursday evening in the opening game of the Class 4A Region V Volleyball Championships Thursday.
What would have been the Falcons’ first regional tournament win fell just inches past the Juneau-Douglas gym end line, or could have touched the end line as it was that close, and the Falcons now must wait to see who they will play in an elimination game tomorrow night.
It might have been the school-colored combat shirts Thunder Mountain wore into battle as improved defense and an attacking offense had the Falcons playing a more athletic game than just weeks ago.
Natalie Montez served 16 aces and Kylie Ibias had 22 kills, Jonelle Staveland 13 kills and Michelle Manning six blocks in the match.
The dramatic fifth game saw touch shots by Kylie Ibias, Jeslie Villaverde, blocks by Makayla Pierce, and a kill by Jenna Luhrs to give the Falcons an 8-4 lead. A rocket shot by Ketchikan’s Faith Clark gave the Kings a service shot trailing 8-5 but Luhrs pounded a shot to the corner for a 9-5 advantage. Katrina Greenlief served twice to score a point one point by Ibias. Ketchikan served at 10-6, scored once, but miss hit to trail 11-7.
An ace by Ibias made it 12-7 but the Falcons let a line shot fall for 12-8, mishit a tip and let a net shot roll over.
The Kings mishit to give the Falcons a 13-10 lead with Luhrs serving. Clark saved Ketchikan’s hopes with a smash to draw within 13-11 and Joanne Paule scored to make it 13-12.
The Falcons were out of rotation and lost a point to tie the score, then let a long shot fall in play to trail 14-13. Ibias passed a long shot that appeared to skim the line but it was ruled out and the Kings won.
Game one featured Ketchikan’s Jayley Taylor killing a comeback mid-game with a spike to up their lead to 14-11.
Kendra Wittwer served the Falcons back into a tie at 16, forcing Ketchikan to call a time out as a momentum stopper. Wittwer served a Falcons lead before a miss hit gave the ball to the Kings.
The Falcons held a 20-18 advantage when Kylie Ibias and Makayla Pierce double blocked a shot, Montez dug up an impossible save, and Jonelle Staveland killed the points. Staveland served to 23-19. A missed kill by Staveland made it 23-20 but the Kings carried the ball to give match point to the service of Katrina Greenlief and a 25-20 win.
Game two began with an ace by Ibias, a kill by Jenna Luhrs and the Falcons looked at ease. A Michelle manning kill made it 4-1.
Ketchikan stayed in the mix with a Tylynn Ward ace and a Taylor kill to tie the score, and Faith Clark smashed the point lead. Manning retaliated with her own kill and another deuce game.
Trailing 12-7, Ibias served eight straight to give the Falcons a 15-12 lead, the last point coming on a nice back pass to Manning for the kill, followed by an ace which forced the Kings to call a time out. After the time out Ibias hit one and missed the line for a 16-13 advantage.
Luhrs served the next round to 18-14, including a big kill by Ibias. Montez served into the next Ketchikan time out with Ibias again killing a shot for a 22-16 lead.
Staveland read the defense on a nice passing set down the net line for a 23-16 advantage. Ketchikan mishit the next point. Luhrs smashed the game-winning kill shot, jumping over teammate Wittwer on the shot.
Game three started with Ketchikan up and the Falcons playing on their heels. Miss hits and miscues put the Kings out 7-1. A big-time save by Manning as she ran into the scorer’s bench and Ibias followed to pass to center court, set up a smash by Greenlief and momentum shifted to the blue and silver. The Kings, however refused to go away, dug up a save and served to a 14-6 advantage. A double block by Wittwer and Jeslie Villaverde and another by Wittwer and Danielle Steinman and the Falcons pulled within six, 14-8. Greenlief forced another Ketchikan time out by serving the Falcons four points and Luhrs slammed it to three.
Taylor smashed her 12 kill of the match to end the threat but Wittwer again killed possession to the Falcons. After a series of changeovers the Falcons slammed two shots long and the Kings Shery Bongot served the 25-16 win.
The Falcons didn’t let Ketchikan jump ahead in game four, staying within four points until the Kings Bayley Lindgren killed a 7-4 lead. Ibias smacked a distraction shot the Kings had to hustle to pick up and Luhrs smoked one down on the court to draw within three. Wittwer served within one before Taylor gave the Kings possession and Clark killed two points forcing a TMHS timeout, trailing 19-12. Ibias and Wittwer killed shots to return the favor; drawing to 19-15.Wittwer roofed a Clark shot to trail 19-18. Lindgren stopped the Falcons with a long point but again TMHS regained possession and served to within 22-20.
Clark jump served for a 23-20 Kings advantage and Taylor killed to within game point. Ibias miss hit to an empty corner and Ketchikan forced the fifth game.
The Falcons next play at 6:30 tonight against the loser of today’s 3 p.m. game between the No. 1 seed Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears and Ketchikan.