Thunder Mountain won its first battle, but Ketchikan won the war.
The Kings rallied to top the Falcons in four close games Saturday, winning 27-29, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-18, dropping Thunder Mountain to 0-6 in the Southeast Conference.
But it was a measure of victory for the school's second-year volleyball program, which had not previously won a varsity game or played Ketchikan so close in the five previous regular season matches before Saturday's.
Coach Adriana Rodriguez said it was by far the best match the Falcons have played in the program's short history.
"Most definitely," she said. "We've been trying to instill in them as a coaching staff - we can talk about it but the girls are the ones who are going to have to make it happen as far as playing competitively all the time and not just trying to compete when they're doing well. You have to be competitive even when things aren't working out for you, and they did that this weekend.
"They played hard the entire time, they wanted to win and you could see it," she continued. "They stuck right in there and Ketchikan had to play Thunder Mountain's game for a long time. Little things, little mistakes and errors were the point differential for us."
Rodriguez said Saturday's match was a step in the right direction for a program that has struggled to compete early on, with many girls who had never played the game before last season.
Saturday, she said, they showed they have learned what it means to compete.
"They were amped," she said. "There was a nice crowd that came to watch them and they were just glowing. They were so excited and they felt good because they knew they had played as hard as they could play. And they carried that momentum into the next game but like I said, we had some unforced errors and misserves that ended up costing us."
Rodriguez said sophomore middle hitter Kendra Wittwer and senior outside hitter Janie White led the offensive and defensive attacks up front for the Falcons.
Thunder Mountain (0-6, 0-6) steps out of conference play for the first time this weekend in Sitka.
Crimson Bears fall to South in Spiketacular title game
Juneau-Douglas was in Anchorage over the weekend participating in the 20-team volleyball battle royal that is the West Spiketacular at West Anchorage High School.
The Crimson Bears went 15-4 overall and dropped the best-of-3 championship match, with South Anchorage winning 26-24, 25-17.
Juneau-Douglas breezed through the first two rounds of the tournament with a 13-1 record.
The Crimson Bears blasted North Pole 20-7, 20-8, Cordova 20-4, 20-5 and Bartlett 20-11, 20-9 before dropping their first game of the season to Kodiak, 20-12. JDHS rebounded to crush Kodiak 20-12 in the second game of pool play.
Megan Hart had five first-day aces for JDHS, while Vika Toetuu added five and Sarah Tarver four.
Tarver had 20 kills, Taylor Larson 16 and Daffodil Alinson 16. Tarver also had seven blocks. Hart, Alinson, Tarver and Kalea Chapman all finished with double-digit digs.
On Day 2, the Bears topped Palmer 20-12, 20-18, West 21-19, 20-11 and Soldotna 20-10, 20-13 to advance to the Gold Bracket, where matches went to a best-of-3 format.
Tarver had six aces, Chapman five and Alinson four. Tarver again led the way with 19 kills, Larson had 15 and Alinson seven. Chapman and Alinson both had double-digit digs with 14 and 13, respectively, and Tarver had two more blocks and Larson one.
JDHS lost their first Gold Bracket game to Wasilla, 25-18, but rebounded with 25-19, 15-10 wins to take the match and advance to the championship, where South swept the match.
Hart had six Gold Bracket aces while Alinson added four. Tarver smashed 18 kills, Larson eight and Alinson six. Tarver, Chapman, Alinson and Toetuu all had double-digit digs, and four Bears had one block.
JDHS is back in action on Oct. 8 with the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza kicking off.
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