Skyview's Cady Bon and Amber Kunz get positive returns on their net investment.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Skyview High School's Amber Kunz and Cady Bon took different paths to become varsity starters for the Panthers volleyball team, but the senior duo has one thing in common: They each decided to set a goal, then worked hard to achieve it.
"I tried out (for volleyball) in seventh grade, but I didn't make the team," Kunz said. "In eighth grade, I wanted to make the team, and prove to the coaches that I should play."
Kunz made the Soldotna Middle School team as an eighth-grader, and first began seeing varsity time for the Panthers as a sophomore, eventually cracking the starting lineup.
Bon, on the other hand, didn't even try out for volleyball until her sophomore year of high school, when she was looking for a sport to keep her busy until soccer season started.
"Another one of our seniors said I should play, so I said OK," Bon said.
Bon played on the C team as a sophomore and made junior varsity last year. Skyview volleyball coach Sheila Kupferschmid didn't think Bon would be around for her senior year, though Kupferschmid said she doesn't like to keep seniors on the roster just to sit on the bench.
Bon had other ideas.
"After the first season being on C team, I thought I might not do it again, but I don't usually quit on things," Bon said. "(During my second season) I felt like I could get better. I was warming the bench for varsity. Those games were a lot more exciting, so I wanted to be playing."
Bon spent the offseason attending open gym sessions, and instead of being cut this year, has become a clutch performer for the Panthers, helping the squad wrap up the top seed from the Southern Division for this week's Northern Lights Conference tournament this week in Homer.
"The difference between last year and this year, it's amazing," Kunz said. "You can tell she wanted to play and get better."
"For Cady, it really is a Cinderella story," Kupferschmid said. "I wasn't going to keep her, but she kept working and getting better, plus she's very smart. She's a kid that makes the right choices off the court. Amber is the same way."
While both players are enthusiastic about soccer Kunz has played with the Boys and Girls Club program, the Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club and the high school team over the past 10 years while Bon joined the high school team as a freshman they each said that the fast pace and competitiveness of high school volleyball, particularly at the varsity level, has them hooked on the sport.
"I've been playing (soccer) a lot longer, but there's something about volleyball that gets you," Kunz said.
"It's addictive," said Bon.
Kunz said that attending open gym sessions and playing with the upperclassmen when she was a freshman gave her her first taste of competitive volleyball.
"That's how I got to love playing the sport," Kunz said.
As a sophomore, Kunz was part of the Skyview squad that defeated Palmer for the Region III title and went to the state tournament.
The Panthers struggled last season, but Kunz said she's thrilled to see her squad back atop the division.
"I didn't expect to have a record like we do," Kunz said. "Last year was more of a rebuilding year, with a freshman setter and a sophomore setter."
Both athletes are A students their hobbies include doing homework on the weekends and they both plan to attend college next year something Kupferschmid attributed to their decision-making skills.
"They both resemble model athletes in that they're both hard workers, and they both make wise choices off the court," Kupferschmid said.
Bon described Kunz as the team's vocal leader while Kunz said Bon has very quietly become a very good player.
"Amber's good at keeping the team up," Bon said. "She's the one that will give us a pep talk after games. She'll say what we need to work on, and then we'll try as hard as we can to work on it."
"Cady's the quiet person, but she's also the comic relief," Kunz said. "She's quiet, but then the one thing she says is hilarious.
"She's quiet on the court, then all of the sudden, she'll come out of nowhere with 15 kills."
Kunz said she's a little nervous as the conference tournament approaches. She'd like to return to the state tournament, and Bon wants to experience the postseason first-hand. Kunz said she'll try to inspire her teammates to play as hard as she was inspired to play by the seniors during her sophomore season.
"Their play level made you play better. They were real good seniors, and they played so hard, you wanted to play just as hard as them," Kunz said.
"We're getting pretty close to it," said Bon.
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