The host Skyview volleyball team defeated Grace Christian on Friday in a Southcentral Conference battle of unbeatens.
The scores were 25-11, 16-25, 25-15 and 25-20. The Panthers improved to 14-0 overall and 7-0 in the conference, while the Grizzlies dropped their first nontournament match and fell to 5-1 in the conference.
While the match featured the likely divisional top seeds at the conference tournament, the occasion had the feel of a dress rehearsal rather than the big show to come.
The fourth game was the only close game of the match, and both teams were far from clicking on all cylinders.
"All of our errors hurt us," Grace coach Valerie Steele said. "We had five straight hits that went out at one point."
Skyview was playing without setter Emily DiPaolo, who sat out a game for disciplinary reasons.
"We were scared we were going to lose because we had to change so much," said Cheyanne Laber, who came through with 14 kills. "We just kind of scrapped it together and fought to the end."
Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said the victory showed the resourcefulness of her team. Sam Reynolds, Hayley Ramsell and Taylor Wilson split up the setting duties. Reynolds had 13 kills and five aces.
"We were out of system, but we managed through having athletic volleyball players," the coach said. "We made it work, and that's good for Skyview volleyball."
The Panthers seized the momentum from the outset, taking a 12-5 lead in the first game. Reynolds then slammed the door by serving for eight points, three coming on aces, for a 24-10 lead.
Steele said the serve-receive of the Grizzlies was not excellent, but she said her squad was hurt just as much by uncharacteristic errors.
"Our serve-receive is huge," Steele said. "We work on it every day in practice and it is getting better.
"Our serve-receive was OK, but when we would get a good pass and then hit the ball out, that was frustrating."
The second game was the only game where Grace got its attack rolling. Setter Felicity Roe, who had 26 assists and 14 digs, directed an offense that featured Heather Green, who had 14 kills, two aces and 20 digs. Krista Green also had 10 digs, four kills and four blocks for Grace.
"I think we did a lot better when we were able to keep ball out of the hands of No. 12 (Heather Green), but that's hard because she is a great all-around volleyball player," Kupferschmid said.
The Grizzlies had a 9-7 lead in the third game, but again Skyview's serving came to the rescue. Ramsell ripped off eight straight service points for a 16-9 lead and Skyview would not be threatened the rest of the game.
"We served really well tonight and that definitely picked us up after we did not serve as well against SoHi (on Tuesday)," Laber said. "We put pressure on their serve-receive and didn't serve too many out."
Laber and Cat Schoessler also said the squad's defense played a pivotal role in the match, especially when things got tight in Game 4. Libero Casey Neill led on defense with 20 digs.
"We just kept getting balls up," Schoessler said. "Casey just swoops in and gets the ball up. I have no idea how she does it."
Ramsell again gave the Panthers some breathing room in Game 4, serving out five points for a 16-9 lead. But thanks to three booming jump serves from Heather Green, the Grizzlies were able to knot the match at 20.
Just when it looked like there could be a Game 5, a hitting error once again came back to haunt the Grizzlies.
That gave the Panthers a side-out and 21-20 lead, and Schoessler served out the final four points of the match.
"Everybody on the team had to do things a little differently, but we were able to adjust," Schoessler said. "It shows a lot that we were able to adjust the way we did."