The Thunder Mountain High School volleyball team put in a strong showing in Anchorage over the weekend, finishing third of eight teams at the Anchorage Christian School Invitational.
Prior to tournament play, the Falcons battled in a four-game match against Bartlett, losing the match by a combined total of nine points.
TMHS won the first game 25-20 and then fell in three straight 25-22, 25-21 and 26-24.
Junior Lauren Rabago led the Falcons with 6 aces, junior Claire While led with 11 kills and senior Jenna Luhrs had 10 kills.
“I definitely think the girls were a little travel tired that game,” Thunder Mountain coach Adriana Northcutt said. “Skill-wise we weren’t at our best but they hung in there. We should have taken Bartlett. We were able to focus in on a lot of the things we had worked on all week.”
The Falcons opened tournament play against Skyview, falling by scores of 25-14, 25-14 and 25-22. Luhrs led TMHS with 5 kills.
The Falcons then swept Kotzebue 25-14, 25-20 and 25-11.
Sophomore Ava Tompkins led the Falcons with six blocks, White had eight kills, Luhrs four kills
Rabago 18 assists, and junior Danielle Steinman 17 assists.
The Falcons had to switch from their normal 6-2 offensive set to a 5-1 in the next match against Bethel as Rabago suffered a jammed finger and was limited in playing time for the remainder of the tournament.
The primary advantage of the 6-2 is it allows for three front row attackers in every rotation. Usually, if a team has two good setters, such as Steinman and Rabago, it provides them as an extra hitter in the front or allows the substitution of a better front row specialist.
The 5-1 allows a team to develop plays around one setter, so there are fewer variables such as timing and chemistry.
“The girls just went with it,” Northcutt said. “Danielle just did her thing and earned us quite a few points by attacking on balls at the net. It worked really well for us this weekend because Lauren is a really good defensive player so it gave us one more solid passer in the back row.”
The Falcons won the match 25-17, 21-25, 25-14 and 25-20.
White led TMHS with five aces and 12 kills, Luhrs had seven kills, sophomore Sheridan Cook five kills and Steinman 20 assists. Rabago still put up a team-high 26 assists.
The Falcons finished third in the tournament, losing to Skyview in the semifinals 25-18, 25-18 and 25-15.
“Skyview has some really tough, big hitters,” Northcutt said. “Our girls did an amazing job of shutting down one of them and doing a lot of great coverage. Our movement was good on the court, picking up tip shots and getting balls up after blocks.”
Cook and Tompkins played strong at the middle blocking positions and provided momentum throughout the weekend. Cook was selected to the all-tournament team.
Anchorage Christian defeated Skyview for the tournament title.
Next up for the Falcons is the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza (JIVE) on Friday and Saturday.