The Homer High School volleyball team rallied from an eight-point, game four deficit for an extra-points win to seal a Region III/4A match at Skyview High School Tuesday.
"We haven't done that before," said Homer coach Beth Trowbridge. "Coming back to take the game, especially when the match was on the line -- that showed a lot of focus, which we haven't necessarily had."
Indeed, focus belonged to the host Panthers early in the fourth game. With her team trailing two games to one, Jackie Bates served for six straight points to give Skyview a 7-2 lead.
Homer narrowed the lead to one point (11-10) with a run of five straight points served by Sierra Smith.
Skyview's Amanda Fay ended the run with a kill, and Lindsay Gephardt started out a seven-point run from the service line with a pair of aces -- Fay had another big hit during the run and Bates added a kill -- to give the Panthers a 19-11 lead.
Skyview made it 22-15 on a pair of serves by Fay, getting a block and a kill from Anna Bonebrake, and after losing the serve, Bonebrake won it back for the Panthers with a block, giving Skyview a 23-15 lead.
The Panthers' ensuing serve went wide, though, and Homer responded with three straight service points from Candi Findino to pull within four points, 23-19. A net violation stalled the comeback and gave the Panthers a chance to serve for the game, but Homer won back the serve and Gretchen Duggar served for five points to give the Mariners a one-point lead, 25-24.
Skyview took one last shot as Gephardt came up with a hit the Mariners couldn't handle to end Duggar's run from the service line, but Chantrelle Cousins notched a kill to win back the serve for the Mariners, and Smith served for match point.
"Homer's a good team," said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "I'm proud of my kids' effort. They were playing the best they can, and it tells me where we're at in terms of ball control."
Skyview had trouble getting everybody on the same page in the first game as Homer jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Skyview twice battled back, tying the game at 23, but Homer's Findino netted a kill and Sarah Manalisay was able to serve for the game.
Homer led early in game two before things started clicking for the Panthers, who were able to tie the game at 12 behind the serving of Michelle Hicks. Bonebrake was able to dominate play in the front row, and Skyview built a nine-point lead for a 25-16 victory to level the match.
A scoring spurt game Homer a five-point lead in the third game, and the Mariners were able to maintain that edge for a 25-20 win, setting the stage for game four.
Trowbridge said things are coming together for the Mariners as the region tournament approaches.
"I've felt like it's been not as cohesive as normal, but skillwise, we've been making small steps toward (solving) some of our mental problems," Trowbridge said.
Duggar finished with nine kills, Findino had four aces and Eller had a good night in the front row.
Kupferschmid also has seen improvement in her squad. Kupferschmid said her setters, freshman Jennifer Holland and sophomore Jesse Kloote, both did a good job. Bonebrake led the team with 21 kills, Fay finished with 19, Bates notched 20 kills and Gephardt was credited with 17 kills. Bonebrake also had seven blocks for the Panthers, who celebrate senior night Friday at Skyview with a region match against Palmer.
"Overall, it was one of our better setting games, so we're improving. The sets were there for our hitters," Kupferschmid said. "We're pretty (well-rounded) offensively, which is a good thing."
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