Because it was the last home game for Kenai Central's volleyball team, Thursday night was senior night, a time to pay tribute to the Kardinals' five seniors.
The night ended up providing due homage to three Skyview seniors, as well.
The Panthers (8-1 overall, 6-1 in the region) took the Region III/4A volleyball match 15-8, 11-15, 15-7 and 15-9 behind the work of Skyview seniors Jenny Carpenter, Christina Colvin and Nynke Salverda.
Carpenter finished with 20 kills, Salverda came through with 12 blocks, eight points off her serve and seven kills, and Colvin had six points off her serve and did her usual steady job of setting.
Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said the performance of the three was pleasing because it was an award for commitment.
Friday and Saturday, Skyview attended the Peninsula Challenge tournament in Homer. It was homecoming at Skyview, and due to a scheduling conflict, Kupferschmid gave the players the option of missing the tournament.
Most took that option. Colvin, Carpenter and Salverda stayed to have a go at the peninsula's best volleyball teams with four Skyview C-team players by their side.
The Panthers didn't do too bad, either, going 14-2 over the course of the tournament and finishing third. The loss that kept Skyview from the championship game was a 16-14, 16-14 squeaker to Seward.
"I can't say enough about the senior group choosing to stay and play," Kupferschmid said. "I think it really helped Jenny Carpenter, and I think that showed tonight.
"She had the chance this weekend to sit there and pick apart defenses. That those three would stay to play with lower-level, younger kids says a lot about their character."
Carpenter said the three seniors felt the need to get in the time in Homer because they knew other region competitors, like Kenai, would be there gaining valuable experience.
"It was just a chance to experiment with serving and hitting," Carpenter said. "We came into tonight confident."
And the return of their regular teammates to their sides only helped that confidence. Junior Laurel Creel had six kills and scored 19 points off her serve for the Panthers.
But Skyview still lacked its normal cohesiveness.
"We were not on," Kupferschmid said. "Kenai really hustled against us and showed a lot of heart.
"Kenai had too many hitting errors and missed serves to win the match, but we had a lot of those errors, too."
Both teams wasted chances for a bounty of points during the match, as Kenai missed 16 serves and Skyview misfired on 12.
"We made mistakes on easy things that we should have capitalized on," said Kenai coach Tamra Wear, speaking primarily about passing and serving.
The coach did say the team looked better than it did in Homer.
"We just had more fire tonight," Wear said. "Everybody just seemed to want it more.
"These girls work hard. They deserve to win whether they do or not."
It was the last home match for seniors Erin Smith, Charity Christensen, Angelica Carreon, Crystal Morris and Lenora John. Carreon had 10 digs, seven kills, an ace and a block; Smith had eight kills, two digs, two blocks and an assist; Charity Christensen had nine digs, four kills, two aces and two blocks; Morris had eight digs, five kills, three aces and a block; and John had 13 digs and an ace.
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