The Soldotna volleyball team fell prey to the Skyview Saturday, losing three straight games on the Stars' home floor.
Skyview turned around a dismal start and marched from a eight-point deficit to win the first game 16-14. Once they got up a head of steam, the Panthers didn't look back.
"In the first game, we came out with jitters," said Skyview junior Christina Colvin. "But we had confidence that we could make a comeback."
And come back, they did. What started out as a home-court romp for the Stars quickly turned into a slippery slope as Soldotna lost a commanding 12-4 lead in the first game and never quite regained ground.
With Panther sophomore Laurel Creel serving, Skyview mounted a six-point run that not only put them back into the game, but dashed Soldotna's confidence.
"They (Soldotna) came out hitting and swinging," said Soldotna head coach Pako Whannell. "When the game got close, they were afraid to make mistakes."
When the game got close, at 12-10, it became a downhill drag for the Stars. For every point Soldotna scored, Skyview would score two until the teams tied at 14-all. From there, Soldotna would score no more in the first game.
With one victory under their belts, the Panthers rode the momentum from their first win through two more games and through the Stars, defeating them handily, 15-7 and 15-4. Afterward, Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said her team played well even when they were behind.
"I wouldn't say our team started slowly," she said. "I think Soldotna came ready to play. I believe in home court. When you have that, balls drop for you."
After their first scoring rally, when the Panthers picked up their first points in the first game, Kupferschmid encouraged her team to go with the momentum they had established.
"I told them, 'You're going to have to do this for five sets,'" she said. "I told them, 'This is what we have to do to get to the state.'"
Then a change came over the Skyview netters.
"They started executing," she said. "Their floor play picked up. Their defense picked up. We got back into our rhythm. Our outside hitters started putting the ball away. And that's what happened."
What happened was the Stars were handed their stripes at home. And Skyview walked away besting Soldotna in this episode of the ongoing rivalry between the two schools.
"Intensity," said Skyview senior Jessika Truesdell, who had eight digs on the day. "We had that a lot in this game. We'll need that against Wasilla."
Skyview will travel to Wasilla to face the Warriors Thursday before meeting up with Soldotna again and Kenai, Nikiski, Seward and Homer at the Dimond-Service Invitational tournament Friday and Saturday in Anchorage.
For Skyview against Soldotna, Christina Hayes had six kills and 10 digs; Jenny Carpenter six kills; Stacia Pfaffe six kills and five blocks; Laura Tarbox six kills; Jessika Truesdell eight digs.
For Soldotna, Rachel Besse had six kills; Haley Smith had five kills; Tabitha Strauss had three kills; and Ashley Duwe had two kills.
The Panthers also defeated East Friday 15-9, 15-3, 14-16 and 15-8. Carpenter had 14 kills and eight digs, while Hayes had nine kills and 12 digs.
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