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Skyview netters sweep SoHi; Homer sweeps Kenai

Posted: September 21, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: September 22, 2011 - 11:05am

Skyview senior Amanda McDowell's match-point serve scraped the net and trickled over, landing inches from the nearest opponent.

Not much else was close in host Skyview's sweep of the Soldotna volleyball squad Tuesday by scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-20.

"It's pretty easy to sum up," SoHi coach Bruce King said. "We played poorly in every phase of the game."

In improving to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Northern Lights Conference, the Panthers turned a highly anticipated match between a pair of conference powers into a one-team show.

McDowell finished with 16 kills, five blocks and four service points, while teammates Cheyenne Laber and Marlee Cunningham added 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

The Stars, who defeated the Panthers in last year's playoffs after the Panthers won the regular-season conference title, drop to 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the NLC.

"We've been looking to this all season," McDowell said. "It's a good victory for us, it's exciting. It pumps us up and gets us ready for the rest of the season."

A charged-up crowd saw Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid insert Mary Hauptman into the setter position for the second time this season, a move aimed at giving the Panthers more chemistry on offense.

It paid off.

The Panthers kept the ball low and generated a fast attack to put pressure on SoHi's blockers, who struggled to contain McDowell, Laber and Cunningham.

Skyview took six of the last eight points to break a 19-all game and capture Game 1. The Panthers then reeled off 25 of 38 after falling behind 4-0 in Game 2.

And after taking an 11-10 lead in Game 3, Kupferschmid's team never relinquished the advantage.

The loss left King questioning his own squad's intensity.

"Quite frankly, we didn't respond to their offense the way needed to on defense to be successful," King said. "They are a good, solid team. If you don't play well against them, they are going to make you pay."

It didn't help that SoHi played without outside hitter Kaycee Munn, who was sidelined with a concussion.

Munn is one of the team's biggest weapons and her absence placed added pressure on SoHi's offense, which was sporadic. Sydney Goggia posted a team-best nine kills.

King was impressed with the passing of Kylee Woodford, who had 22 digs, but the coach wasn't ready to pin the loss on the absence of Munn, who is expected to return for the team's next match.

"We're not using that as an excuse," King said. "We played poorly."

For Skyview, Hauptman's performance provided promise for the remainder of the season.

Kupferschmid has stressed since the opener that setter is where the offense begins and ends.

Karlie Self had the job, but the coach swapped her to libero in hopes of generating more chemistry in the passing game.

"Mary Hauptman ran the offense really well," Kupferschmid said. "She had a great night."

Holly Ramsell added eight service points and three kills for the Panthers, while Britanie Whipple finished with four kills.

Next up for SoHi and Skyview is the West Spiketacular in Anchorage.

Kupferschmid and King agreed the tournament is a chance to face quality opposition while preparing for the next part of the conference schedule.

Both teams are already looking beyond Tuesday's match.

"We just need to keep working and play hard in future games," McDowell said. "It's an exciting win, but just because we got it, it doesn't mean anything to future teams."

As for SoHi, "We are obviously a work in progress. We hope by the next time we see them, we have all the kinks ironed out," King said.

Homer sweeps Kenai Central
The visiting Mariners notched a 25-15, 27-25 and 25-13 NLC victory over the Kards, who fall to 0-5 and 0-7.

Kenai coach John Kennedy said his squad was right with Homer in the first game, but hit a wall at about 14 points.

"We started playing tentative and back on our heels," he said. "Against a team like Homer, with their experience, you can't do that."

In Game 2, Kennedy made some adjustments and the Kards actually served for the game twice before coming up short.

"We have to be able to make the plays to finish the game," Kennedy said. "We've got to dig deeper and play harder."

Kennedy said he is seeing progress in practice, but he said losing is wearing on the team.

He said his squad must work to keep the intensity level high throughout practice. That will help the team avoid letdowns in games.

Justice English had 16 assists for the Kards, while Jodi Cook had five kills and five blocks. Briana King added five kills, two aces and four service points, while Sarah Rawson had 10 digs.

Kenai plays at Houston at 6:30 p.m. Friday and at Eagle River at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

 

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