Falcons volleyball travels to Puget Sound

Team saves money by going Outside for tournament

Thunder Mountain’s Lilyan Smith tips the ball over against Sitka’s Hadley Andersen at Thunder Mountain High School on Friday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Outside-the-box thinking by Thunder Mountain High School’s volleyball coach landed the team inside the Washington state border last season.


The trip to Washington saved money while added experience for the squad, which won the silver bracket of the Tacoma-Pierce County Volleyball Officials Board tournament. The single-day tournament hosted by Washington High School in Tacoma pitted the Falcons against a variety of talent tournaments in Alaska have a hard time replicating.

Prior to the tournament, the team played in exhibitions against Enumclaw High School (Enumclaw, Wash.) and Washington High School (Tacoma, Wash.).

“We’ve never seen these teams before so you never know what to expect really,” senior Mary Landes said.

The Falcons lost to Enumclaw but defeated Washington High School last year.

This year, the team plays South Kitsap High School (Port Orchard, Wash.) on Thursday and Mt. Rainier High School (Des Moines, Wash.) on Friday before playing all day Saturday in the TPCVOB tournament.

Senior Rachel Macaulay is one of the seniors on the team who will be making her second trip to the Evergreen State. She found the teams down south were different in at least two ways from those in Southeast.

“There’s a lot more height down there as well as power in the front row, which we don’t really see a whole lot of up here,” Macaulay said. “I’m sure we’ll see that again this year.”

TMHS head coach Arnold Ibias engineered the trip last year after seeing how much money he could save by flying to Seattle instead of Fairbanks. The team has played in a tournament hosted by West Valley High School in the past in Fairbanks.

“This year, the same thing, we had the opportunity to go to Barrow or go back to Fairbanks and I said, ‘Why would I do that when I could go down South and play some really great competition and save $2,000?’” Ibias said.

The team won’t have much rest after they return home. They play their first game against crosstown rival Juneau-Douglas the following Tuesday at JDHS at 8 p.m.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nolin.ainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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