Skyview captured a spot in next week’s ASAA State Volleyball tournament with a three-game sweep of the host team Seward in Saturday’s third-place contest at the Southcentral Conference tournament.
After losing to Anchorage Christian Schools in five games Friday, Skyview swept through Houston in three games on Saturday afternoon before reaching the third-place match, where they topped Seward with game scores of 26-24, 25-23 and 25-20.
The state appearance is the sixth for Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid, and it will be the last for her and the school before the doors close in May.
“The school came out on the spirit bus and they were rooting us on,” Kupferschmid said. “That says a lot about the spirit of the school. Next year it changes.
“It was rough on Seward’s home floor, and that always makes a difference. I know my kids were feeling pressure, but Skyview had about 30 kids here to support us.”
Senior Cheyanne Laber recorded 13 kills and four blocks to lead the Panthers, while junior Emily DiPaolo supported with 24 assists. Junior Hayley Ramsell had 10 kills, seniors Sam Reynolds and Cat Schoessler added seven kills each, libero Casey Neill got 10 digs and Jacy Rouse added four kills.
In addition, Skyview put four players on the All-Tournament First Team — Ramsell, Laber, Neill and Reynolds. Reynolds also grabbed the Good Sports award for Skyview.
Kupferschmid remarked that she has never had four players make the conference first team before.
“I think the coaches respected our win-loss record,” Kupferschmid said about Skyview’s 20-1 record, including tournament games. “I was thrilled. I give all the credit to the kids, their work ethic and resilience from the ACS loss is what won them over.”
Earlier in the day, the Panthers beat Houston with scores of 25-4, 25-11 and 25-8. Reynolds tallied nine kills and 16 service points to lead Skyview in that contest.
Additionally, DiPaolo had 15 assists, Laber got eight kills, Ramsell had six kills and Schoessler added six kills and 10 aces.
“Hopefully the pressure is off now and we’re relaxed going into the state tournament,” Kupferschmid said. “It just gives us another opportunity to play.”
Before their match with Skyview, Seward fought off a tough Nikiski squad in five games with scores of 25-21, 25-18, 25-27, 13-25 and 15-9. The match ended Nikiski’s hopes of a state bid.
In that match, Katie Costello led the Bulldogs with 13 kills, libero Laura Hufford provided 25 digs, Rachel Thompson had 25 assists and seven kills, Rebekah Krogseng got eight kills and Ayla Pitt racked up nine kills and two blocks.
“We’re obviously upset, but they really did believe they could get to state,” said Nikiski coach Stacey Segura. “In the region tournament, there’s no room for young mistakes, and that’s what we had. You can’t pass the ball into the net, or tip it into the net. You just can’t make a mistake like that.”
Thompson was voted onto the All-Tournament First Team, while Jodi Cook was put on the All-Tournament Second Team. Costello took the Good Sport award for Nikiski.
After Seward took a two-game lead, Segura noted that she thought once Nikiski was able to win game three, Seward seemed to have dropped its guard.
“We started to fall apart and we lost our momentum in the second game, and I said that this is basically it,” Segura said. “We came out strong in the fourth game and I don’t know what happened with Seward.
“We were passing really well and putting down anything that they sent over.”
After rallying back to force game five, Seward finally righted the ship and staked out an early 7-0 lead that Nikiski could not overcome.
“I am pretty proud of them,” Segura said. “Last year we got to state, but they weren’t really playing for the team, they were kind of playing for themselves.
“This year I wanted to continue to build the program at Nikiski, and we started something that can keep going, as long as it’s a team that works together and keeps improving.”
Earlier on Saturday morning, Nikiski beat Cordova in three games, with scores of 25-13, 25-9 and 25-23.
Thompson led Nikiski with 18 assists, Costello got nine kills, Jodi Cook had eight serving aces and four kills, and Krogseng added six kills and 25 digs.
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.
“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. 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.
First team — Heather Green (MVP); Casey Neill, Skyview; Rachel Thompson, Nikiski; Dallas Dickerson; Felicity Roe; Zoia Basargin, Homer; Cheyanne Laber, Skyview; Bryn Tennyson; Ashley Von Borstel, Seward; Sam Reynolds, Skyview; Hayley Ramsell, Skyview; Kinley Hickok.
Second team — Jodi Cook, Nikiski; Alaina Campbell; Catherine Mauldin; Khristin Nida; Cassie Septien; Bridget Broderick; Paige Carter.
Honorable mention — Ashley Whiteshield, Seward; Hollie Duncan; Katie Costello, Nikiski; Kiana Clemens, Seward; Krista Green; Larsen Fellows; Laura Hufford, Nikiski; Maggie Koplin, Homer; Natalie Moore; Rebecca Krogseng, Nikiski; Sarah Hoepfner; Tayla Cabana, Homer.
Good sport team — Sam Reynolds, Skyview; Sarah Hoepfner, Cordova; Candace Mawldin, ACS; Adriene Hall, Grace; Amanda Lorenzo, Houston; Katie Costello, Nikiski; Jane Rohr, Homer; Kiana Clemens, Seward.