Saturday's nonconference volleyball match between Nikiski and Skyview wasn't so much about bumping, setting or spiking as it was focus.
The visiting Panthers, coming off a loss the night before and missing middle hitter Beth Massey, had it. The Bulldogs, coming off a five-game win the night before and looking forward to Saturday's homecoming dance, didn't.
Skyview, which had lost to Seward Friday 15-12, 13-15, 15-12 and 15-5, rebounded Saturday with a 16-14, 15-7 and 15-7 sweep of Nikiski.
"(Friday), we were really pumped up before the game but then we fell apart once we got out there," said Skyview junior Angel Hollers, who had four kills and served for 12 points in the win over Nikiski. "We weren't as pumped up today, but we were a lot more focused."
Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid, whose team is now 3-2 overall, said the absence of Massey, who was gone on a church function, probably had a lot to do with that focus.
"When a team has to overcome the loss of a key player, that team has the tendency to focus more," Kupferschmid said. "They focus to try and overcome that obstacle.
"The kids did that."
On the other side of the focus spectrum was Nikiski, which is now 3-2 overall.
"Mentally, we were not in the game," Bulldogs coach Cherrie Hobart-Verkuilen said. "We didn't play at all. It was pretty disappointing."
Things actually didn't start out that bad for Nikiski. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the first game before Skyview came storming back. Skyview junior Christine Hayes, who finished with seven kills in her first game at outside hitter, served out seven straight points to make it 13-10.
"Volleyball's a momentum game," said sophomore setter Christine Colvin, who finished with 39 assists. "Things can turn around on one play.
"We made some big blocks and kills in that first game that turned it around."
And once Skyview got momentum on its side, it refused to give it up.
"We were a lot more focused on getting emotion into the game today," said Skyview senior Amanda Bauer, who paced Skyview with 12 kills.
The Panthers came back to win the first game 16-14 and never were really challenged after that. Also keying Skyview's dominance were sophomore Jenny Carpenter with seven kills and junior Laura Tarbox with five solo blocks.
Kupferschmid said she hoped beating Nikiski, which has a tradition of strong teams, will give her team a big confidence boost.
"There's an attitude we have to change at Skyview girls athletics about whether we can compete with a program like Nikiski's," Kupferschmid said. "Sometimes, it just takes one win like today to change everything around.
"When you get that confidence, balls just start dropping in for you. That's what happened today."
Laura Berdahl paced Skyview with 24 kills, but she did most of her damage while Nikiski was amassing the lead in game one that would eventually evaporate.
"I'm hoping this will upset them," Hobart-Verkuilen said of her team. "Maybe the positive that will come out of this is we'll work a lot harder at practice."
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