Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid saw her veteran squad mustering just enough to overcome a coming-of-age Soldotna side.
Soldotna coach Bruce King saw a team that was hamstrung by his mistake in filling out the lineup before Game 1.
The fans that packed the bleachers on one side of the gym merely saw another installment in what may be the most consistently tight and intense rivalry -- in any sport -- in the area right now.
The Panthers topped the Stars 25-21, 25-18, 23-25 and 25-21 on Tuesday in Northern Lights Conference play at Soldotna. Skyview moves to 11-2 overall and 6-1 in the league, while the Stars drop to 7-6 overall and 4-5 in conference.
"I don't care what type of team I have," Kupferschmid said. "To come in here and get a win at SoHi says a lot.
"It was a great crowd. Give credit to the Skyview student body for coming over here and supporting us."
Soldotna seniors Jessie Duke, Leah Garske and Rebecca Satathite were honored before the match.
When King was filling out the lineup for Game 1, he switched around the numbers of Satathite and Duke. Since one plays the left side and the other plays the right side, King said his mistake was very costly for the Stars.
"It dug us a deep hole," he said, still bristling after the match due to his mistake. "We had the wrong players the whole game. The girls adjusted well."
Soldotna adjusted by playing solid defense and getting good passing, just as it would for most of the night.
"Our defense and passing is coming along quite well," King said. "It was a big improvement from the last time we played Skyview."
In the first game, Skyview had 15 kills to Soldotna's five kills, but SoHi's defense was good enough to keep the Stars in the game. A hitting error by Skyview's Alicia West cut the Panthers' advantage to 21-19 late in the game.
Jaxon Hill snuffed that momentum by getting a block, then running all the way to the other side of the court for a kill. Hill had 16 kills and five blocks.
When Soldotna cut the gap to 22-21 on a stuff block by Kaycee Munn, Hill again came up with a big kill for a 23-21 cushion.
Rebecca Egan, who Kupferschmid said had a great night at setter, then served out the final two points of the match.
Next came the only loose game of the match, with both teams struggling on serve-receive. Soldotna struggled more and fell into a 21-12 hole which it could not escape.
For Skyview, Mary Hauptman had a run of six straight points and Amanda McDowell had a run of four points. For Soldotna, Satathite had a run of four points.
In the third game, Soldotna's block really started to close in on the Panthers. Kaillee Skjold had 12 blocks (seven stuff) for the Stars, while Sydney Goggia had eight blocks (three stuff).
"We had 20 blocks," King said. "We did a good job controlling the net."
"SoHi played a heck of a match," she said. "I think they outplayed us on the front line.
"They're athletic. I know that because I coached them in middle school. They played their hearts out."
Soldotna jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the third game. Skyview fought back to tie the score at 20 on a kill by West, but a missed serve by the Panthers and a stuff block by Goggia put the Stars up 22-20.
A couple of kills by Thit Bak, who finished with 15 kills, cut SoHi's lead to 24-23, but Skjold closed the door with a stuff block.
The Stars started out the fourth game by digging everything, with Kylee Woodford and Satathite leading the way with 17 digs each.
"They were picking up all the holes," Kupferschmid said.
The Panthers were finally able to make some headway when West had five straight service points to tie the score at 13. Kupferschmid said those types of easy points were rare in the match.
"The controlled our serve," she said. "A lot of teams haven't been able to control our serve."
From that point on, neither team would lead by more than two until a service winner by Hill gave Skyview a 23-20 lead.
Satathite cut into that lead with a kill, but a Bak kill and Soldotna hitting error ended the match.
"Give my kids credit," Kupferschmid said moments after her team untangled itself from the student-body mob that rushed the floor after the match. "They've put in the time and effort. They deserve moments like this."
West had eight kills and McDowell added seven for Skyview. McDowell had 14 service points, while Mary Hauptman and West had nine apiece. West also had 11 digs and six blocks, while Hauptman had 10 digs.
For the Stars, Heidi Westerman had 18 assists, while Satathite had 11 kills, Goggia had seven kills and Munn had six kills. Satathite had five aces, while Goggia had three.
Soldotna travels to Anchorage Christian Schools on Thursday, while Skyview plays at Homer on Tuesday.
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