The Skyview volleyball team made sure senior night didn't turn into Colony middle blockers night.
The Knights feature a pair of athletic middle blockers - Allison Leigh and Mary Klapperich - who were the tallest players on the floor Friday at Skyview.
Panthers coach Sheila Kupferschmid came up with a plan to contain the middle blockers, and Skyview executed it in a 27-25, 27-25 and 25-17 Northern Lights Conference victory.
After getting swept by Palmer on Saturday, Skyview moves to 9-3 overall and 5-2 in the league.
The victory came on a night when seniors Amanda McDowell, Mary Hauptman, Naomi McMullen, Britanie Whipple and Karlie Self were honored.
"We were ready to win," Self said. "We came out ready to execute and it paid off."
The Panthers definitely did not stop Leigh and Klapperich. Leigh had 13 kills, while Klapperich had eight. Skyview did keep the two from taking over the match, though.
The Panthers served strong, attacked with variety and dug feverishly to pull out the victory.
Kupferschmid said part of the plan was serving hard enough that Colony would have trouble passing and setting up its attack.
"We had to serve tough, but we had to serve in," she said.
The Panthers missed just six serves in the match, but Colony coach Amy Carter said Skyview's serving was able to keep her squad from getting into a rhythm on offense.
Kupferschmid said Whipple, with 10 service points, led the charge. McMullen and Holly Ramsell added nine service points, while Hauptman had seven service points.
Hauptman was responsible for running the offense. McDowell is Skyview's big hitter, and she came through with 17 kills.
Kupferschmid said Hauptman spread the ball around enough to keep the Colony defense from keying on McDowell. Holly Ramsell had nine kills and Marlee Cunningham, Whipple and Sam Reynolds added three kills.
On defense, Kupferschmid said Self had the best game of her career in picking up 12 digs. Whipple had five digs, while McMullen had four.
Self led a defense that, by the third game, had solved Colony's offense and was digging almost everything.
"They were tipping a lot and by the third game we were really picking it up," Self said.
Even though the Panthers played with execution and emotion, the Knights were still a tough mark.
"I thought it was a good match," Carter said. "It was one of the best we've been in all year."
McDowell came up huge in the close endings of the first two games.
"She get everyone fired up," Self said. "She killed it. She was pumped up and it got everybody else pumped up."
The Knights had game point at 24-23 in the first game before McDowell knotted the game with a kill. She also had a stuff block to give the Panthers a 25-24 edge, a kill for a 26-25 advantage, and the winning serve in the 27-25 victory.
The Knights had a 24-20 lead in the second game, but again McDowell and the Panthers were up to the challenge. After Hauptman earned a sideout with a kill, McMullen served out four points for a 25-24 advantage. McDowell earned two of those points with kills.
After the Knights tied it at 25 on a Skyview hitting error, a McDowell kill pushed the score to 26-25. A Colony hitting error ended the game.
"Passing was the difference at the end of the first two games," Carter said.
The Panthers controlled the third game with defense.
McDowell led Skyview with four blocks, while Cunningham had three and Ramsell added two.
Carter said Mariah Weydahl had a great defensive match with nine digs. Maryann Zmuda had 21 assists, while Meagan Vance had seven digs and Kortnie Swenson added three aces.
On Saturday at Skyview, Palmer won 25-23, 27-25 and 25-19. McDowell had 17 kills, while Cunningham and Cheyanne Laber had six apiece. Ramsell led with 10 service points, while Hauptman had eight and McDowell added seven.
McDowell piled up nine blocks, while Cunningham and Laber had three apiece. Self had 15 digs, while McMullen added nine.
"Palmer had better ball control and they served tough," Kupferschmid said. "That's how they win. They make the other team make mistakes."
Nikiski tops ACS, Seward
The host Bulldogs notched victories over Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday and Grace Christian on Saturday. Nikiski improved to 6-6 overall and 3-3 in the Southcentral Conference.
Nikiski topped ACS 25-20, 25-16 and 25-16.
At the start of the second game, the Bulldogs lost senior middle blocker and captain Kinsey Martin to a season-ending ankle injury.
"They were frazzled for five points, but they came right back out ready to battle," Nikiski coach Amber Oliva-Douglas said. "I was proud of them for their mental toughness."
The coach said ACS always does a good job of exploiting the other team's holes, so she said her squad learned a lot during the match.
Saturday, the Bulldogs learned the injury to Martin would be season-ending. They hung her jersey over a chair on the bench and came up with a five-set victory against the top team in the conference. The scores were 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, 20-25 and 16-14.
"They took inspiration from their seventh man," Oliva-Douglas said. "They really played hard for her."
Bailey Buchholz played middle blocker, while Dylan Holloway filled in for Buchholz. Paris Davis also filled in at weak-side hitter.
"It's the first time in four years we beat them," Oliva-Douglas said. "It's a major deal for us. I couldn't have been more inexplicably proud of my team tonight."
Seward splits on weekend
The Seward volleyball team hosted a pair of Southcentral Conference matches Friday and Saturday.
Friday, the Seahawks lost to Grace Christian 25-15, 25-12 and 25-19. Saturday, Seward defeated Anchorage Christian Schools 25-8, 25-11, 13-25 and 25-12.