The Skyview Panthers capped senior night by sweeping Southcentral Conference opponent Homer in three games Thursday night at Skyview, with scores of 25-9, 25-20 and 25-15.
Led by a stifling defending unit, Skyview came up with points when it mattered most, getting points off of Homer’s mistakes.
“The intensity and adrenaline and hard work and execution, all of that is necessary to win,” Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. “I hope the energy from tonight’s match carries over into the region tournament.”
Sam Reynolds led Skyview with 16 assists, eight kills and 10 service points.
Teammate Hayley Ramsell had 17 assists, nine kills and 13 service points, Marlee Cunningham had nine kills, and Cheyanne Laber produced six kills and five service points.
Skyview celebrated its five seniors before the game, and sweeping the night only added to the joy.
“It’s really exciting to be here on our home floor on senior night, and have all our fans there,” Cunningham said. “We were hitting really well, and our serving was really good.”
“It’s bittersweet,” Holly Ramsell added. “We’ll be moving on to greater and better things, but this is nice.
“I said savor this moment, Marlee, because it’s the last one in the last home game. I was holding her hand, saying, ‘Let’s do this!”
Skyview jumped out to a big early lead in the first game, hitting a 10-1 point streak, which was helped by key blocking from Cat Schoessler, Sam Reynolds and Laber.
The Mariners managed to give Skyview a run for its money in the second game, setting some a few impressive serves that gave Homer a 7-1 point streak and nearly taking the lead midway through. Like Skyview was doing in the previous game, Homer found good blocks from Zoia Basargin and Kayla Hutt.
Basargin had five kills, Kayla Hutt had four kills, Tayla Cabana put up two blocks, Hope Hudson knocked out three aces and seven digs, and Maggie Koplin had seven digs.
“We’ve had a lull of no matches, the last match we played was two weeks ago at Houston,” Homer coach Beth Trowbridge said. “We haven’t played at a fast, heavy-hitting pace in a while, so that first game, I really thought it took us awhile to get into it. The second game, they kind of found their groove, and I shifted our blocking around to try and shut down their hitters a little more. I felt our blockers were doing our job and we were just playing solid defense, and I thought we were more aggressive with our attacking.”
In the end, it was Skyview that came through in the third game, taking advantage of Homer’s missteps and putting a quick end to the match.
Homer is now sitting at 1-8 in the Southcentral Conference, while Skyview is 8-2, one game ahead of Nikiski. If Nikiski should win its match against Seward Friday night, then there would be a tie.
“When these kids are ready to play, they are tough,” Kupferschmid said. “I just hope travel wearies does not play into it, and we’ll see what happens in Cordova.
“I’m happy for the seniors, they’re going out on a win, and they earned it and deserved it. I hope tonight was special for them.”
SOLDOTNA 3, NIKISKI 1
The Stars took the energy that the Bulldogs started with and won their matchup 3-1 Thursday evening in Nikiski in nonconference action.
Nikiski won the first game 25-20, but Soldotna rallied back to win the next three games with scores of 25-11, 25-11 and 25-20.
Soldotna’s Natalie Kress had 17 digs, teammate Heidi Westerman had 17 digs and 13 assists, Kaycee Munn put up 15 digs and five kills, and Kaillee Skjold got eight blocks (one stuff) and 16 kills.
Also, Katelynn Kerkvliet had six blocks (four stuff) and six kills, Taryn McCubbins had two serving aces, and Julie Litchfield provided 15 assists.
Nikiski was led by Bailey Buchholz, who racked up 27 digs and seven kills. Teammate Rachel Thompson had 14 digs and 37 assists, Taylor Calderwood produced 16 digs and nine kills, Sienna Wallis had four kills and four blocks, Rebekah Krogseng had 14 digs and six serving aces, and libero Paris Davis had 22 digs.
Nikiski head coach Stacey Segura said her team came out fired up and ready to go, but the energy level wasn’t sustained for the remaining matches.
“When we lost the second game and couldn’t get it back, it stayed with us,” Segura said. “We need to improve on staying consistent and giving 100 percent. They got to learn to play every point until it’s over. I’m not disappointed, because they did awesome and we really learned a lot. I’m very pleased with their performance.”
Segura said the team is learning what they are made of, having come close to beating two tough teams in the last two weeks. The Bulldogs nearly toppled Anchorage’s Dimond Lynx last weekend.
“I think it’s a huge statement,” Segura said. “My girls have the capability of beating anyone. It’s just a matter of owning up to them. In the Anchorage tournament, we almost beat Dimond, and if you can beat Dimond, you can beat anyone.”
Soldotna’s record is 8-1 in the Northern Lights conference, and 12-2 overall, and will play Ketchikan today at 6 p.m. at Soldotna Middle School, which includes free admission.
Nikiski is 7-2 in the Southcentral conference and 10-3 overall, and faces up with Seward today at 5:30 p.m. in Nikiski.