The Skyview Panthers swept both of their games on Friday at the ASAA Class 3A State Volleyball tournament at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla, leaving them as the only Kenai Peninsula team left standing as the tournament heads into its third and final day.
Skyview swept Barrow earlier Friday, then won three close games against Nome to seal their fate in the second-day bracket, with scores of 25-23, 26-24 and 25-22.
"I'm excited, that's a good win for us, we had split with Nome during the season and here at the end of the season we sweep them," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. "It's very satisfying for Skyview."
The Panthers were put to the test in Friday's second match, winning by a combined seven points.
"Hopefully that's going to carry over into tomorrow's championship round," Kupferschmid said. "Close wins give the kids confidence like that."
In the first game, Nome held an 11-5 lead at one point, but Skyview rallied to take a 16-15 lead and the game win.
The second game saw similar fate play out, as Nome put up seven straight points to take a 15-8 lead, but Skyview went on an 8-1 tear to tie the game up, with several important kills coming from middle blocker Cheyanne Laber. The junior ended up with 16 kills.
"Coming from yesterday, we just wanted it really bad, and if we lose a game now, we're done," Laber said. "That's what pushes us."
After a shot from Devynn Johnson put Nome in the lead 24-23 (and match point), Skyview's blocking negated the Nanooks from doing more damage, and won three points to clinch Game 2.
"It was an up-in-the-air kind of game, it was really exciting," Skyview senior Marlee Cunningham said. "We all came together in the end, and they played hard and we played hard, so I don't know what to say. It's awesome."
The third game was a tale of two halves. Skyview began on fire, holding a 16-3 lead at one stage, but Nome slowly crawled back into contention, outscoring Skyview 19-7 to put them within a point of the Panthers at 23-22.
Sam Reynolds knocked out the last point to save Skyview's game hopes and title hopes.
"One of my big things I tell them is grab the momentum, because that is what carries you," Kupferschmid said. "The kids are tough, they play through a tight match, and they came through on all three tight games. I'm really proud of them."
Apart from Laber's 16 kills, Cunningham had nine and Holly Ramsell had eight. Also, Hayley Ramsell racked up 21 assists, nine digs and six aces, Reynolds had 11 assists, 12 digs and four aces, libero Casey Neill got 12 digs, and Cassie McKenzie had 10 digs.
Skyview will begin the final day of state competition with a 10 a.m. matchup against Monroe Catholic, the same team that ousted Nikiski from the tournament on Friday.
"We can play with Monroe, I'm excited for that," Kupferschmid said.
SKYVIEW 3, BARROW 0
The Panthers returned on Friday to sweep the Whalers, after a 3-1 loss to Grace on Thursday. Led by Cheyanne Laber's 16 kills, Skyview easily cruised to a 25-14 Game 1 win, then held off Barrow in the second and third games, 25-23 and 25-20.
"Cheyanne switched up her game a little," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. "Now she's learning about roll shots and tips and things that can also be affective, along with big ball kills. She was smart and we kind of threw their defense off."
Eight of Laber's 16 kills came in Game 3, when it is most crucial to put up points.
Hayley Ramsell provided 21 set assists, nine digs, five aces and four kills, Sam Reynolds had 18 assists and four kills, Marlee Cunningham got nine kills and six digs, Holly Ramsell recorded eight kills, and Cassie McKenzie and libero Casey Neill each had 12 digs.
Skyview scored three straight points to take a win in game 2, a set that looked to favor Barrow, since they were leading 23-22 late. Kupferschmid said although they won, her players will have to step up their game as they progress through the bracket.
"We're going to have to play better than that, but I'm pleased with the win," Kupferschmid said. "It was just kind of a slower pace ball, something a little different than what the kids are used to, but they fought to the end, and it's good to be able to win close games like that. It gives them confidence that they can pull those games out."
Skyview's win moved them up the bracket into a match with Nome.