Skyview High School sophomore Missy Massey tips the ball over the net during the Panthers' home game against Soldotna High School on Friday.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Playing to a raucous crowd, the Skyview High School volleyball team defeated Soldotna Friday in three games in a Northern Lights Conference match at Skyview.
“We came out with a lot of intensity,” said Skyview’s Jennifer Holland.
“We wanted this badly,” added teammate Alex West. “It’s our rival. Of course we wanted to win.”
Combined with a victory over NLC foe Wasilla Saturday, the win over rival Soldotna gave Skyview a clean sweep on the weekend.
Against Soldotna, Skyview’s Jordan Grant rattled off five straight service points to open the match, with Holland picking up a pair of kills during the run, and the Panthers snatched the momentum of the match and never relinquished it.
“Jordan grant started it off and gave the kids confidence. Confidence is what keyed this win. I felt like they had a good jump, and they went with it,” said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid.
The Panthers led by as many as nine points during the game and won 25-18.
The second game was a much closer affair, with 10 tie scores. Soldotna edged ahead 23-22 on a kill by Courtney VanAntwerp, but the Panthers tied the game at 24, and, with Grant serving, came up with a block and a kill from Holland to take a two-game lead with a 26-24 win.
While the Stars looked deflated as the teams switched sides for the third game, they were able to stay right with the Panthers early in the game.
Jessie Bilderback put together a run from the service line to give the Panthers a 21-14 lead, and Holland came up with another game-ending kill, this one with a well-placed tip, to give Skyview the match with a 25-16 win.
“We didn’t have any mental lapses this game, and we didn’t let them get any runs,” said Skyview’s Chelsie Martin.
The Panthers credited their improved serve-receive for their success.
“Serve-receive is everything,” Martin said.
“Without the pass, there’s nothing,” added Grant.
Soldotna coach Pako Whannell pointed to her team’s troubles in the passing game as something to work for the next time the teams meet.
“Looking at my stats, we had too many missed serves, and Skyview served tough. We could not pass consistently. That makes or breaks the game right there,” Whannell said.
The Stars will have several days of practice before heading to Mat-Su next weekend, and Whannell said they would take the time to refocus and put in some quality practice time.
“It gives us something to work on. I know we have lots we need to work on, but this is a wake-up call, a reality check that hey, we do need to work on some stuff,” she said.
Kupferschmid said her team’s attacking kept the Stars on their heels.
“Our ball control was good. we scored points off our defense and ball control. ... The kids were on hitting-wise. They kept balls on the floor and made Soldotna play defense,” Kupferschmid said.
Kupferschmid also praised Martin, who played libero for the Panthers in the match. The libero is a defensive specialist who can be subbed into the back row for multiple players but whose attacking role is restricted.
“Chelsie Martin is our spearhead. She’s the one who’s executing it, making it happen. I like playing with the libero. I think it helps us defensively,” Kupferschmid said.
Martin was 7-of-8 digging the the ball for the Panthers, while Holland led the team with nine kills. Alex West picked up eight kills and five blocks, Brittney Meyer picked up five kills and Melissa Fay was credited with 21 set-assists.
In Saturday’s win over Wasilla, Meyer, West and Missy Massey each recorded 10 kills, while Holland added 7.
Skyview actually dropped the first game to the Warriors 23-25 before storming back to take the next three games, 25-19, 25-16 and 25-10.
Fay had 27 set-assists in the gaem, and Martin was again 7-of-8 on digs. Grant was 16-of-18 on service receptions for the Panthers.
Kupferschmid said Wasilla was a quality opponent and that the win gave Skyview another important NLC win to build on.
“It gives us a good win over a good valley school,” she said.
Clarion reporter Matt Tunseth contributed to this story.
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