Skyview seniors Amanda Bauer and Beth Massey took center stage before Tuesday's Region III/4A match against Homer and never really left it.
Bauer and Massey, the only seniors on Skyview's squad, were honored before the match because it was the Panthers' last home game of the season.
The duo, which originally teamed up as eighth-graders at Soldotna Middle School, was then the kingpin in the Skyview attack that floored the Mariners in a 15-13, 15-7 and 15-9 sweep. Massey paced the Panthers with 12 kills, while Bauer followed close behind with 11 kills.
"The seniors played great," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said after her team finished up region play at second place in the Southern Division with a 4-6 record. "I'm glad for them. It was their night."
Both Bauer and Massey were the primary offensive options for Skyview all night. While Bauer did her hitting from either the back row or the outside, Massey controlled the middle.
"Those two are good hitters," Homer coach Beth Trowbridge said of Bauer and Massey. "I did feel like we couldn't get a block up on their middle hitter.
"Because our block was a little bit off, it allowed them some good hits."
While playing volleyball for the last time on Skyview's floor had an effect on Bauer, Massey took the night in stride, answering, "I think so," when questioned if she felt good about her hitting.
"They didn't stop Beth," Kupferschmid said. "When Beth is on, you cannot stop her. She did a good job hitting to corners.
"I also think when Beth is on our team is on."
Bauer came up with her usual array of off-handed digs, effortless passes and thunderous kills, but after the match she said she was glad the emotional experience of senior night was over.
"I wasn't thinking about playing the game, I was thinking about it being the last game and that I won't get to play here anymore," Bauer said. "It made me play really, really bad."
Kupferschmid would beg to differ.
"For seniors, it's an emotional last night," the coach said. "They want every ball to be a kill. Amanda was her consistent, heady self."
The Panthers unveiled a new weapon in the match, with junior Christine Hayes moving about 10 feet in back of the court to serve. Homer had trouble returning the serve all night and Hayes scored 10 points off of it.
It also helped that when Hayes was serving, both Bauer and Massey were in the front row.
"It's a new thing we're trying to put in for regions," Kupferschmid said. "(Hayes) has been a good server, so I knew she was capable of moving back.
"If I could, I'd have all my players serving from back there."
For the most part, the Mariners, who finished 0-10 in the region, were able to match Skyview point for point. However, it was five- or six-point runs by Skyview that finished Homer.
In game one, Jenny Carpenter and Hayes each had a string of five straight service points. In game two, Laura Tarbox had a run of six straight service points while Hayes served out four straight.
Finally, in game three Angel Hollers had a service streak of six points while Tarbox had a run of five.
"We've struggled with that all season," Trowbridge said. "We have a hard time turning it around if a team gets a couple points on us, even though we have a team of good passers."
Despite the loss, Trowbridge came away happy with the team's play, particularly crafty hitting by senior Lindsay Babcock and solid digging by Jami Epley.
"I was pleased we were able to put as much pressure on Skyview as we did," Trowbridge said. "We have to keep playing teams tough so we have something to look forward to at regions.
"Maybe, we can surprise somebody."
For Skyview, Carpenter had four kills and Tarbox added three. Kupferschmid also credited sophomore Christina Colvin with a great setting match.
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