The previously undefeated Skyview Panthers lost to Anchorage Christian Schools in a 3-2 match in the semifinals of the Southcentral Conference tournament Friday in Seward.
Skyview held an early advantage after wins of 25-19 and 25-22, but then dropped three straight sets to the Lions with scores of 25-22, 25-15 and 15-11.
The loss leaves Skyview with a chance to win its way back into the mix for a state bid in the double-elimination tournament, but the Panthers cannot afford another loss. The team will face the winner of the Homer and Houston match at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
"It was just a switch of momentum," said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "ACS played a tough match defensively, and I knew all along they were very good. They just caught us at a time when it cost us a lot.
"My kids played hard, they played well enough. I wish we would've executed better in that fifth set, but I can't say enough about their effort."
ACS and Grace Christian face off for the Southcentral Conference crown on Saturday, and will do so already having clinched state berths. The winner of the third-place game Saturday will take the final spot at the state tournament next weekend at Chugiak High School.
On Friday against ACS, senior Sam Reynolds led the Panthers with 10 kills, six service points and four digs. Teammate Cheyanne Laber added 10 kills, five service points and three blocks, Hayley Ramsell notched 10 kills and five service points, libero Casey Neill had 10 digs and four service points, and setter Emily DiPaolo had 28 assists.
After Skyview took a two-game lead, Kupferschmid said the superb defense of ACS kicked in and stole the last three games.
"They picked up everything," Kupferschmid said. "A ball would be on the floor and they would get it, and we didn't pass the ball well enough in the last three."
In the fifth and final game, Kupferschmid said her team took a 3-0 lead, but missed a couple of key serves that broke their early momentum.
"We did it to ourselves, we were right in there with them," she said. "But this could be a blessing in disguise. Tomorrow we'll be back and ready."
Earlier in the day, Skyview dropped Cordova in three games, with scores of 25-21, 25-8 and 25-16. In that contest, Kupferschmid noted that her squad was much more relaxed.
"The kids served the heck out of the ball," Kupferschmid said. "We ripped them."
Laber led the Panthers with 12 kills, Reynolds and Ramsell each had eight kills, and Neill notched 11 digs.
Anchorage Christian 3, Nikiski 0
The Bulldogs were dropped into the loser's bracket on Friday with a sweep by ACS with game scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-15.
Nikiski will have to fight its way back to the third-place game if it wants to have a shot at a state bid, beginning with an 8 a.m. matchup Saturday with Cordova. It will take three wins on Saturday to have an opportunity at state.
"It'll be a long day, but I think we can do it," said Nikiski coach Stacey Segura. "They're willing to work hard to get there, and when you're that close, it's about mistakes.
"We just had too many mistakes. Second and third games. That's really the diffenrece. ACS did nothing to us. We were just making mistakes.”
Rebekah Krogseng tallied 26 digs, four kills and two blocks to lead the Bulldogs, while teammate Rachel Thompson had 11 assists, Katie Costello notched six kills, and Jodi Cook served up three aces and had four blocks.
Earlier in the day, Grace Christian swept Homer in three games. Scores were 25-8, 26-24 and 25-22.
Also, the host Seward Seahawks topped Houston in four games, with scores of 25-23, 25-17, 21-25 and 25-21. However, Seward fell to Grace Christian later on Friday in three games, with scores of 25-14, 25-19 and 25-17.