Thunder Mountain High School didn’t sweat losing four out of nine games in the J.I.V.E. round-robin play Friday and Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School
They’d won enough games to advance to the Gold Bracket with five other teams.
Plus, two of those four losses were decided by just two points. One of the other defeats? A 25-19 loss to Sitka? It was at 10 a.m. in the morning.
“We don’t do mornings. The morning was kind of a warmup for us,” senior Rachel Macaulay said Saturday night at Juneau-Douglas High School.
If the morning was the warmup for the Falcons, the evening was the celebration. TMHS captured its second consecutive J.I.V.E. championship Saturday night, defeating Petersburg 25-19, 25-23, in the final game of the tournament.
Macaulay posted 15 digs, playing stout defense against the lively Vikings, while teammate Maxie Saceda-Hurt added eight kills. It was the sixth set in a row the Falcons won that day.
TMHS defeated Mt. Edgecumbe 2-1 in the first round of bracket play and Sitka 2-0 in the second to set up the championship with Petersburg.
Both teams made a flurry of unforced errors in the game— especially serving the volleyball. But what the Falcons gave up in errors, Saceda-Hurt and a rotating cast of other Falcons made up in clever hits for points.
“It would have been nice to take away four or five of those unforced errors in each game,” Petersburg head coach Jaime Cabral said. “Those rack up fast.”
In both the first and second set, Saceda-Hurt tipped balls at the net beside or behind Vikings defenders, but never to them.
“They have a tall middle blocker and the only way to get around her was to do those tip throws and aim for the spots that they were not expecting,” Saceda-Hurt said after the game.
The first set hung in the balance at 12-12 until Mary Landes kickstarted a 6-0 run with a kill. The Vikings would get no closer than two points the rest of the game.
The second set got off to a sloppy start. The Vikings and Falcons each gave up unearned points with their problematic serves. But the Falcons claimed a lead shortly thereafter.
The back half of the set included four ties though. Saceda-Hurt broke a 22-22 tie with a hard shot that ricocheted off a leaping Courtney Fredricksen’s left arm.
The game was won three plays later on a long Petersburg serve.
JDHS loses twice in bracket play
Petersburg upset JDHS, 2-1, in the Crimson Bears’ first game of the bracket play. It would be the first of two tough losses for the Crimson Bears, who came up just short against Mt. Edgecumbe in the following round in the third set.
“They upped their game today, I’m going to say they got a lot better,” junior Riley Stadt said of Mt. Edgecumbe.
Stadt’s right wrist featured an ice pack or gauze tape for much of Saturday. Stadt and teammate Leah Spargo (ankle) were unable to finish out the tournament due to injury.
“We just need to work on some things, get our intensity back and get our parts that we’re missing back and we’ll be good,” Stadt said.
The tournament consisted of close to 15 hours of volleyball. Throughout Friday afternoon, Friday evening and Saturday morning, four teams were in action at once in the JDHS main gym. The nearby auxiliary gym hosted junior varsity games between JDHS, Mt. Edgecumbe and Ketchikan.
Sitka and Juneau-Douglas had the best records after nine round-robin games at 8-1. Mt. Edgecumbe and Petersburg had the next two best records at 7-2 respectively. Craig, Klawock and Wrangell all finished round robin at 3-6. Ketchikan was 1-8 and Metlakatla 0-9.
In the Silver Bracket, Klawock defeated Wrangell for the championship.
Both the Falcons and Crimson Bears trek north next week to the Dimond-Service tournament in Anchorage.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org