The host Skyview volleyball team defeated Grace Christian on Friday and Anchorage Christian Schools on Saturday in a pair of Southcentral Conference matches.
The Panthers improved to 15-0 in nontournament play and 8-0 in the conference.
Friday against Grace, the scores were 25-11, 16-25, 25-15 and 25-20 in the battle of unbeatens. 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.”
Saturday, Skyview swept the Lions 25-22, 25-12 and 25-22.
“We lost to them in tournament play 2-1 in their ACS tournament,” Kupferschmid said. “We beat them here on our floor, but to me they are a very good team. They have eight seniors out there and they are very scrappy.”
Reynolds had 11 kills, 11 service points and 10 digs; Schoessler had 13 digs, 11 service points and two kills; Laber had nine kills, 11 service points, six digs and three blocks; Neill had 10 digs and six service points; Ramsell had 11 service points, seven kills, three blocks, 18 digs and eight assists; and DiPaolo returned to action with 11 service points, 14 assists, 15 digs and two kills.
Kupferschmid said Reynolds came up with some big kills, while Laber had some big blocks and kills. She said Ramsell also continued with a solid all-around game.
Soldotna netters take 2nd in silver consolation
The Soldotna volleyball team took second in the consolation portion of the silver bracket Saturday at the Dimond-Service tournament. Nikiski finished second in the championship portion of the bronze bracket.
On Friday, the Stars finished 4-4 in pool play, placing them third in their pool and putting them into the silver bracket. Nikiski was 1-7 and finished last in its pool.
Saturday, the Stars opened with a 8-25, 25-20 and 15-7 loss to Wasilla. SoHi then battled its way into the consolation final by topping Eielson 25-16 and 26-24. The Stars lost the consolation final to West Valley 25-19 and 25-23.
Nikiski opened up play in its bracket by topping Houston 25-20 and 26-24. The Bulldogs then lost in the championship 25-20 and 25-22.