JDHS takes two from TMHS, earns top seed at regions

Everything clicked for the Crimson Bears spikers this weekend as they closed their regular season with two decisive wins over Thunder Mountain High School, earning the No. 1 seed at next weekend’s Region V tournament.

Juneau-Douglas High School showed superior strength in front of the attack line, taking the game to the Falcons, who despite showing glimpses of parity in their game over the weekend, were overwhelmed by JDHS’ firepower.

“I think we’re at a higher level now, lots of things are clicking,” middle hitter Cassie Dzinich said after she helped her team to a four-set Saturday night win. “People are just getting their hit down, their timing right and moving their feet. Everything is just clicking. … It feels faster, like there’s more energy.”

JDHS clinched the No. 1 seed with their second win on the weekend, a Saturday night win in which they overtook the Falcons in four games 25-12, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-22.

The absence of hitter Maxie Saceda-Hurtte was a key difference in the Falcons’ defeat, as the Crimson Bears often imposed their will at the net, blocking and hitting with a skill and strength varsity coach Lesley Kalbrener said was “unparalleled” in her time with the program.

“We’ve got middle hitters hitting three different sets out of the middle and it has been years since that’s happened for this program,” Kalbrener said. “... Our serving is aggressive and tough, our ace percentage is extremely high compared to the beginning of the season and defensively I think we’re doing things I didn’t think we would see.”

After taking a bruising in the first game of Saturday’s match, Thunder Mountain woke up in the second game by harnessing the energy and net play of middle hitter Kyra Jenkins. The Falcons took game two, tying the score 1-1, and came alive with their backs against the wall, but couldn’t rally comebacks in games three or four.

Jenkins says her team wanted the match badly.

“We noticed what we were doing wrong in the first game, we really wanted to win this match,” Jenkins said, citing communication issues in the back row as a factor in the loss.

The weekend’s matches settled the No. 1 seed in the conference, which brings with it a first-round bye in the Region V tournament. After finishing their regular season on top, JDHS (6-2) will face the winner of Ketchikan (2-6) and Thunder Mountain (4-4) at regions Nov. 4-5 in Sitka.

Friday’s match

JDHS took Friday’s match in three sets (13-25, 14-25, 24-26), playing some of their best volleyball of the season by out-hitting Thunder Mountain and dominating in front of the attack line.

Kalbrener predicted the Crimson Bears’ ability to hold onto leads would be a key to the weekend’s contests. Her prognostication bore out in the first two games as JDHS put ample distance between themselves and the Falcons to set up the straight-set win.

With the third game tied 24-24, Thunder Mountain came close to forcing a fourth game, but couldn’t find the breaks they needed down the stretch. The Falcons suffered a block by JDHS hitter Cassie Dzinich to put the Crimson Bears at game point before the away team closed the match with a 24-26, game-three win.

• Contact Sports and Outdoors reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or kevin.gullufsen@juneauempire.com.

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