It was a classic evenly matched set of high school volleyball between cross town rivals Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain on Friday at the Falcons gym.
No team could put up more than a six point lead or keep service for more than four points, yet the Crimson Bears continued to hold court with the three-game sweep of the Falcons 25-21, 25-21 and 25-19.
“We are getting so close,” Thunder Mountain coach Adrianna Northcutt said. “The key for us is the little mistakes.”
Both teams had missed serves, net violations and unforced errors.
“It was a lot of little things that make a huge difference,” Northcutt said. “Once you lose that momentum it takes a couple points to earn it back.”
The Crimson Bears were making a 2-1 ratio in points off of turnovers. Still more than what was expected from a JDHS team that just finished a three match sweep of the valley schools north of Anchorage last week.
“We didn’t play as well here,” Juneau-Douglas coach Lesslie Knight said. “I think it is always easier to play on the road because you don’t have the pressure, and you don’t even have the pressure of this rivalry.”
The Crimson Bears kept a slim lead through game one and rode the power kills of University of Anchorage signee Chelsea Peterson to stop any prolonged Falcons’ surges.
Falcons’ server Kendra Wittwer followed a Makayla Pierce kill with three straight service scores to pull within two at 19-17 before Peterson slammed a kill. Peterson would miss another but hit again.
“When Chelsea is on she dominates,” Knight said. “This wasn’t a great match for her, but when she is on she is unstoppable. Tonight it was our setters (Rachel Doogan and Gracie Meiners) that were our anchors.”
The Falcons tied the score at 21 with two straight serves by Kylie Ibias but JDHS’ Meiners hit a score and teammate Sally Paul served out the game, including a last point ace.
Game two was more of the same two-for-one point tallies in favor of JDHS with TMHS putting together two late swings to narrow the gap. The Falcons’ Katrina Greenleif put three serves over with two aces to pull TMHS within two at 20-18 but Meiners placed a kill to stop the surge.
Ibias put another three serve scoring drive to pull the Falcons within two again at 23-21 but Meiners again tipped over a point and served the final winner.
In game three Peterson gave the Crimson Bears an edge with a kill shot to break a 7-7 tie, then served four straight scores.
The Falcons used kills by Makayla Pierce, Jenna Luhrs and Ibias to stay in the match throughout.
JDHS’ Madelyn Mckeown blocked game point and Kayla Balovich aced the final score for the match.
The Crimson Bears were led by Peterson’s 15 kills on 34 attacking shots, 16 digs and two service aces. Meiners had 11 kills Balovich 9 kills, Paul eight digs, and McKeown four blocks.
Luhrs led the Falcons on the night with 9 kills, Pierce 5 kills with 6 blocks, and Ibias had five aces.
“We are definitely battling a mind set,” Northcutt said. “There is a huge intimidation factor that goes along with JDHS in the whole region. Our girls are more than capable of going point for point with them. Skill wise we are evenly matched teams, we just have to clean it up a bit. We just have to get over that mental part.”
The Crimson Bears defeated Wasilla 25-13, 25-17 and 25-14, and Colony 25-16, 20-25, 25-22, and 25-15 last weekend. Their earlier Palmer win was reported in the paper.
“The kids played really well up north,” Knight said. “We served better than ninety percent north. On a positive note both teams have room for growth. We didn’t play our best tonight. I do believe it is going to be between us and them (TMHS) when we go to regions. It is important for us to be in control from here on out.”
Saturday night’s game scores will run in Monday’s paper.