Speed kills. But as the host Skyview volleyball team showed Tuesday night, off-speed kills, too.
Tipping more often than Robert DeNiro's character in "GoodFellas," the Panthers notched a 15-9, 15-11, 15-11 nonconference victory over previously unbeaten Seward.
During coach Angela Hammer's tenure, the Seahawks have become famous for their scrambling, frenetic defense that makes spikes harder to put down than a bag of SweeTARTS.
"It seemed like they were everywhere, even up in the bleachers getting balls," said Skyview defensive specialist Lindsay Gephardt of the Seahawks. "I was really impressed.
"I hope to be that good on defense eventually."
Most teams get desperate facing that kind of defense. Skyview merely got smart.
"I think my kids played a smart game," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said after her squad improved to 7-1 overall. "We kept trying to stretch their defense.
"They have awesome diggers. We tried to find a vulnerable spot, and that vulnerable spot was the roll shot in the middle."
Senior outside hitter Jenny Carpenter got the most out of dinking the ball over the net as she collected 18 kills. Also for Skyview, middle hitter Nynke Salverda had eight kills, outside hitter Laurel Creel had seven kills and setter Christina Colvin had three kills.
"They were picking up our strong spikes, and that was getting frustrating," said Creel, a major contributor Tuesday despite a nosebleed. "It was getting frustrating not having them go down, and that's probably why we were tipping so much.
"We talk to each other during the match about what's open."
Hammer, whose team is now 8-1 overall, said the match provided a valuable learning experience.
"We haven't played anybody that plays like they do," she said. "The (Class) 4A teams we've played like Soldotna and Kenai have big hitters, but they use those hits all the time.
"(Skyview) caught us off-guard. You hate to see it when that ball is falling in the middle of your players all the time, but this gives us something to work on and that's good."
In the first game, Seward was especially vulnerable to the tip and Carpenter rolled up eight kills. Her last one was, of course, a tip and gave the Panthers the 15-9 victory.
But as the Seahawks adjusted, Skyview had to increasingly rely on other aspects of its game.
The Panthers served tougher and tougher throughout the match. In the first game, there was only one time Skyview got a point because Seward couldn't get a serve back over the net.
That number increased to three in the second game and six in the third and deciding game.
"We have a lot of different types of servers on this team," Creel said. "I think that threw them off a little."
Amanda Fay served for 14 points on the evening while both Creel and Colvin served for eight each.
The Panthers also avoided any prolonged lulls against the Seahawks. Friday, against Homer, the Panthers won the first two games before dropping the next three and losing their first conference match of the season.
"There's a saying that goes something like, 'When you win, don't think you're better than you really are; and when you lose, don't think you're worse than you really are," Kupferschmid said. "We try to keep the kids on an even keel.
"In practice, we stress consistency. We had that consistency tonight. We had it on defense."
Anna Bonebrake had six blocks while Salverda added two. Carpenter was 13 of 14 on digs, Fay was 11 of 12 on digs and Gephardt was 9 of 9 on digs.
The defense was good enough to keep Seward from getting on a roll.
"We just weren't quite in sync tonight," Hammer said. "We had a couple of key players that were off, but that was all right because it forced others to step up."
Krista Boulden had 23 assists for Seward, while Lisa Steinbrecher had 36 digs, Tara DeRuwe had nine solo blocks and seven kills, and Breanna Bardarson had six kills.
Soldotna 3, Nikiski 2
The host Stars defeated the Bulldogs 19-25, 25-11, 24-26, 25-13 and 15-6 in a nonconference match.
With regular setter Stacey Foster out with a foot injury, the Stars got key performances from those filling in for Foster.
Heather Roach set the first game and had eight assists. Megan Needs, normally the junior varsity setter, saw her first varsity action in the last four games and had 32 assists.
Both Roach and Needs also did a good job at the service line. In the second game, Needs served seven times in a row. Roach turned the same trick in game three. Roach had four aces for the match, while Hillary Zobeck had three aces and Needs added two aces.
Rachel Besse paced Soldotna with 23 kills, while Zobeck had 13, Ashley Duwe had five, and Haley Smith and Christa Martin had three apiece.
In the kill blocks department, Smith had three, Besse had two and Roach had one. Finally, Lauren Christensen had 17 digs, Besse had 16 digs, Zobeck had 15 digs, Jacqueline Cowan had 10 digs, Roach had eight digs and Duwe had seven digs.
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