The Skyview High School volleyball team adopted a new mantra for Tuesday's Region III/4A volleyball match against crosstown rival Soldotna: Don't give up.
And, despite losing the first two games, the Panthers refused to fold, rallying to defeat the Stars in five games at Skyview High School.
"We had to show then that we weren't going to let down," said Skyview's Lindsay Gephardt. "We were going to keep fighting. We weren't going to let them take us on our home floor."
The Stars started the match with all the momentum. Soldotna needed extra points, but defeated the Panthers 26-24 after trailing 11-6 early in the first game. Soldotna's Jacquelyn Cowan recorded a kill to put the Stars up 25-24 and win her team the serve, and Allyssa Roach delivered from the service line to secure the game.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair as Soldotna got some tough serving from Cowan and Stacey Foster while Skyview had solid play at the net from Jackie Bates and Anna Bonebrake -- each led to scoring runs for their respective teams.
Soldotna gradually pulled away, though, and Taryn Moeglein recorded a kill to win the serve and give the Stars a 24-16 lead. Megan Needs delivered the serve for game point, and Moeglein came up with a block to end the game.
Soldotna jumped out to a 7-2 lead to start the third game before Skyview dug in and turned the tide.
"We just told our sophomores that we were seniors and this is the last time we were going to play (Soldotna)," said Skyview's Amanda Fay. "We told them they better put it all on the floor -- for the seniors, if for no other reason."
And with that, the Panthers mounted their comeback, tying the game at 15 during a four-point run from the service line by Amber Kunz.
Soldotna was able to briefly regain its lead on serves from Needs and kills by Moeglein, but the Panthers tied the game again at 23 on a block by Bonebrake and Bates, and Bates served out the game, mixing in an ace and getting a tip-kill from Kunz on game point for a 25-23 win.
Game four was nip and tuck before Fay gave Skyview a small advantage, serving for three points to give the Panthers a 23-21 edge. The game was tied at 23 and again at 24, but a Soldotna serve missed its mark to give the Panthers a 25-24 lead, and Bates served for the 26-24 win, leveling the match and sending it to a game five.
Skyview's Jesse Kloote served for the first three points of the final game, getting kills from Bonebrake and Fay, and the Panthers maintained their edge the rest of the way. Bates served for game point, and the Panthers clinched the match when a Soldotna pass sailed wide of the court.
"We just got it in our heads not to give up, and to play our hardest," Fay said.
"It was similar to our first match (against Soldotna), where we took the first two and they came back," said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "I hope it was a good lesson for all of us to always hope and never give up -- this is a life lesson that we all need to be reminded of."
Gephardt led the Panthers with 11 kills while Bates finished with 10 and Bonebrake had nine kills to go with her 18 blocks.
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