The Skyview and Kenai volleyball teams got together for a best-of-five Region III/4A match Saturday at Skyview, but they might as well have played just one game.
That would have been the match's third game, which was by far the most competitive and turned the tide in Skyview's favor. The Panthers notched a 15-3, 4-15, 15-13 and 15-2 victory over the Kardinals.
"It was pivotal," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said of the third game. "I think the match could have went either way and volleyball's such a momentum game.
"We got that third game and then Kenai let down in the fourth game."
Kenai was coming off a win against Homer Friday, while Skyview was coming off a 15-8, 15-5, 12-15 and 15-13 loss to Kodiak Friday.
Kupferschmid thought Friday's matches might have played a factor in Saturday's early afternoon match. Kenai could do nothing right in the first game and lost it 15-3.
"Maybe because we lost the night before, and they won, we came out hungrier," said Kupferschmid, whose team is now 1-1 in the region and overall.
Kenai coach Vanessa Gabel said her team's receive of serve was disappointing all night, but in the second game that aspect of the Kardinals' game improved just enough to where junior Jamie Montgomery could set up Kenai's hitters.
The result was an easy 15-4 victory for the Kardinals.
Near the end of the second game, though, something happened that set the tone for Skyview's success in the all-important third game.
Kupferschmid got her squad together during a timeout and used a little emotion to get on senior middle hitter Beth Massey.
"She asked us what she had to do to get us to stop making mental errors," said senior outside hitter Amanda Bauer of the second-game timeout. "After that, there was just silence.
"I think that got everybody back into the game."
The third game featured six ties and the Panthers never had the lead until a kill by sophomore Jenny Carpenter put them up 10-9. Skyview eventually had a 13-11 lead, but Kenai junior Erica Shinn's kill tied the game back up at 13-13.
Skyview's final two points in the game came by kills from junior Angel Hollers and Bauer.
Hollers said the team worked hard in the weight room and gym in the off-season. That hard work has affected more than Skyview's strength and skill on the court.
"We're a lot more passionate about the game this year," she said. "That helped us in that third game."
Kenai fell behind 9-0 in the fourth game and was never able to put up a fight after that.
"Everybody on our team felt it," Bauer said of the fourth game. "We weren't going to let them back in that game."
The classic everything-is-going-right moment in the fourth game came with Skyview up 8-0. An awkward pass sent Bauer lunging far to the left side of the net. She managed to stick her arm out and angle the ball perfectly over the net in front of bewildered Kenai defenders.
"I do that all the time -- at least two times a match," Bauer joked afterward.
In all seriousness, Bauer and the Skyview hitters had solid sets all day thanks to sophomore Christina Colvin. Kupferschmid also complimented the defense of junior Jessika Truesdell.
As for Kenai (1-1 in the region and overall), Gabel said she was happy with the way junior outside hitter Shamra Bauder filled in at outside hitter.
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