Both the Skyview and Kenai volleyball teams kept their fifth-game streaks this year intact.
The host Panthers outlasted the Kardinals to take a Region III/4A volleyball match Thursday night 12-15, 15-6, 15-4, 5-15 and 15-7.
Skyview improved its record to 3-0 in the region with the victory, and two of those wins have come in five-game matches. Kenai, meanwhile, dropped to 0-4 in the region. Three of those losses have come in five-game matches.
"Five-game matches are tough, but I'll take them when they end up like this," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. "This builds mental toughness.
"A couple of years ago, we were losing all our five-game matches, but we've been able to turn that around lately. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it has something to do with our setter and outside hitters. They carried us."
Kupferschmid would be referring to senior setter Christina Colvin, senior outside hitter Jenny Carpenter (16 kills) and junior outside hitter Laurel Creel (16 kills, 12 points). Carpenter and Colvin were starters on last year's state runner-up team, while Creel was the first player off the bench on that squad.
Kenai, meanwhile, has had a much different experience with five-game matches.
"I've heard that they were having problems with five-game matches last year," Kenai assistant Nathan Beck said of his team. "I think the way the team hung in there mentally tonight will help them.
"We were holding tough at the end. If the game was to 21, I have the feeling we would have come back and won it."
Kenai's main problem in the fifth game was it fell behind big early. Skyview's Lindsay Gephardt, who would serve for 16 points on the evening, started out the fifth game by serving for five points.
After Colvin nixed a Kenai scoring opportunity with a kill, the senior served out three more points to make it 8-0. Kenai would play even with Skyview the rest of the way, but the damage had already been done in the 15-7 loss.
"Kenai's a dangerous team," Kupferschmid said. "They have a lot of heart. Their kids showed a lot of heart by refusing to go down in that fifth game."
Throughout the match, Kenai also showed it had a lot of other things going for it, like a stout defensive presence in the middle and some tough serving.
The Kardinals took the first game behind the heavy top-spin serving of middle hitter Angelica Carreon.
Carreon, who had six aces, eight kills and 18 digs on the evening, served for seven points in that first game.
After the first game, the Panthers upped their defensive intensity and communication. They also directed their attack away from the middle presence of Carreon and Erin Smith (six blocks), leading to a plethora of kills for outside hitters Carpenter and Creel.
"I think Laurel Creel, offensively and defensively, had as good of a match as anybody," Kupferschmid said. "She's such an athlete and she displayed that tonight."
The coach also had kind words for Carpenter: "For some reason, I always forget about her. She's so consistent and she's so smart."
In the fourth game, however, the never-say-die Kardinals were able to take advantage of a Skyview lull to pull off a 15-5 victory and even the match at 2.
"I'm not so sure we made the difference in that fourth game," Beck said. "Skyview almost expected to walk over us, and we didn't fold."
The coach sees that as a good sign for the future.
"It's not showing up in wins, but we're happy with the improvement we're seeing on this team," Beck said.
Ally deMello had 22 assists for Kenai, while Beck also lauded the play off the bench of Kaitlin Walker.
For Skyview, Nynke Salverda had eight kills and Kupferschmid credited freshman Anna Bonebrake with three kills and solid blocking up front.
Finally, the coach paid tribute to a seventh player.
"We're getting the student body out for our games," Kupferschmid said. "Volleyball's a game of emotion, and it helps having all those people cheering us on."
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