Following the lead of its Southcentral Conference rival Nikiski, Skyview unfortunately found itself in a hole on opening day of the 3A ASAA State Volleyball Championship tournament, losing out to the Grace Christian Grizzlies 3-1 on Thursday at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla. The game was also a rematch of last weekend’s SCC semifinal game.
With game scores of 25-20, 27-25, 23-25 and 25-20, it was certainly an even matchup. However, unlike the conference semifinal, it was Grace that had the upper hand on Thursday.
“Grace played well. They played better than they did in the region tournament,” Skyview head coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. “I always say that a team is never better than they think they are, and when you lose, you’re not as bad as you think you are. That’s what I told my kids.”
Grace was led by Heather Green, who had 16 kills and 17 digs. Teammate Nicole Weisenfelder got 12 kills, 11 digs, seven assists and four aces, and Krista Green knocked out six kills and eight digs.
“It was very close, but we were just able to keep our passing very clean and in control,” Grace coach Valerie Steele said. “Skyview is a talented team, so hopefully we don’t see them again.”
Skyview’s Holly Ramsell recorded nine kills and six digs, Cheyanne Laber had nine kills, Hayley Ramsell got three kills and three aces, Sam Reynolds notched six kills and 14 digs, Marlee Cunningham had five kills, and Cat Schoessler got three kills
Like Nikiski, Skyview will have to earn its way back into championship contention through the losers’ bracket, and it starts on Friday at 1 p.m., when the Panthers face the Barrow Whalers, who were swept in three games by Valdez on Thursday.
“I told them that we were right in there on all those sets, just a few points shy on each,” Kupferschmid said. “The good thing about it is that we’re not out of the tournament yet. I have a good Skyview team and we’re going to come back tomorrow and fight at one o’clock.”
Skyview seemed off-balance early on in Thursday’s match, finding itself in a 2-0 hole and looking like Grace may pull off a sweep. But, the competition was closer than it looked on paper.
In the second game, both teams traded point after point, no team scoring on consecutive possessions until Grace broke a 7-7 tie. In fact, no team held a lead bigger than three points in the set.
It wasn’t until a Skyview ball was called out of bounds that Grace clinched the game, a 27-25 win for the Grizzlies.
It was the same story, different verse, in the third game, as Grace looked for a sweep, but Skyview relied on powerful blocking from Cunningham and Holly Ramsell to beat Grace to the 25-23 win. Ultimately, the Grizzlies’ plethora of kills and serving aces proved too much to overcome for the Panthers, and Grace’s Kinley Hickok ended the contest with a kill.
“It just goes back to fundamentals, and working the fundamentals,” Kupferschmid said. “It comes down to making good choices on the floor and the centers making good choices. They have to have the right fundamentals of blocking, being in the right spot on the floor, and adrenaline and confidence should take over.”
Concerning whether or not Skyview can return on Friday with a renewed motivation, Kupferschmid can only hope for the best, but sounded optimistic.
“I hope so for the kids,” she said. “They are a very good team.”