Kenai Central's Samantha Calderwood served the final five points of the decisive fifth game to pull out a 3-2 comeback win over the Skyview Panthers Saturday at Kenai in Northern Lights Conference action.
Kenai coach Jason Diorec was impressed with his team's ability to stay together in the final game, saying Kenai's conditioning was key.
"I told my girls, 'Let's show 'em how much gas we have left,'" Diorec said following the Kards' 17-25, 25-21, 22-25, 27-25, 15-7 victory.
Both teams played the match missing key players, and ball control and limiting mistakes was crucial in the final game, when Skyview miscues serving helped Kenai get out to an early lead.
"You can never miss a serve in the fifth set, especially on the other team's court, and expect to win," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. "We missed two or three of them."
Skyview controlled the match early, getting a big 25-17 win that was highlighted by two kills each from Anna Bonebrake, Alex West and Jennifer Holland. Bonebrake and Holland each finished the game with a team-high eight kills for the Panthers. Skyview also got good defensive games from Melissa Fay and Chelsea Martin. Michelle Hicks was the Panthers' leading server, scoring 19 points on the match.
Kenai fought back in the second game, with Calderwood's serving again key. The Kenai senior served five consecutive points midway through the game to give the Kardinals a lead they would not relinquish.
The two teams were tied midway through the third game before a Holland kill keyed a four-point run for the Panthers. The game featured some sloppy play at the end, something both team's coaches said they're trying to work on early in the season.
"It really comes down to ball control," Kupferschmid said.
"When we were on, they were off and when they were off, we were on," Diorec said.
The fourth game was a back-and-forth affair that saw neither team take more than a three-point lead at any point. Skyview fought off one game point at 24-23, then tied things up at 25-25. But the Kardinals fired off the game's last two points, getting a kill from Calderwood to finish things off.
Kenai was helped in the fourth game by a number of key shots from Amber McGlasson, who Diorec credited with keeping his team together throughout the match.
"I can put her anywhere and she does well," Diorec said.
The Kenai coach also praised his bench players for stepping up in the absence of senior Jamie Peterson.
"I've saw a lot of stepping up, especially from my bench players," Diorec said.
Samantha Navarre moved into a starting role for the Kardinals and filled in well for Peterson, getting two kills in the final game to finish with six for the match.
Both coaches agreed that the pressure of playing in a five-game match will help their teams later in the season.
"It's okay for us to go five games once in a while," Diorec said.
"There's still a lot of volleyball left to be played," Kupferschmid said. "We're getting better."
Kenai 3, Wasilla 1
Amber McGlasson served 10 of Kenai's 25 points in the fourth game as the Kardinals cruised to a 25-20, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17 victory over Wasilla Friday in Kenai.
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