The Skyview High School volleyball team secured the top seed heading into next week's Region III/4A tournament by blowing past Soldotna in three games Friday at Skyview.
"This clinches the No. 1 seed in the region tournament, but most importantly, the win will continue to give my kids confidence," said Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "Confidence is something that will help your team in tough, close matches."
The Panthers left the Stars in the starting blocks, taking the first game 15-0, winning the second game 15-3 and finishing off the match with a 15-2 win in the third game.
And the Panthers felt like they started slow?
"Sometimes we play down to the other team's level. Tonight, it just took us a little while to get started," said Skyview's Jenny Carpenter.
It may have just felt that way for Carpenter and the rest of Skyview's front line as the Stars had trouble handling the Panthers' serving throughout the match, leaving the Skyview hitters without much to do early in the match.
Still, the Panthers were in position to make every play -- even when it meant scrambling to recover from a rare mistake.
"We go through a lot of repetition in practice," Carpenter said. "We make sure we go over our coverages and defense, even without the ball. It's just a lot of practice."
After a kill by Nynke Salverda won a sideout for the Panthers to open the match, Christina Colvin rattled off eight straight points from the service line, and the Stars had trouble returning all but one of them, which Carpenter finished off with a kill.
Salverda served for three more points -- Amanda Fay notched a kill during the run -- and Carpenter, Lindsay Gephardt and Laurel Creel each added points before Salverda had another opportunity at the service line and finished the game off.
Down 2-0 in game two, the Stars got their first point of the match when a Skyview hit landed wide of the court, but the Panthers came right back.
Carpenter notched a kill to win a sideout, and Creel started a run of seven straight service points with an ace. Salverda had a block and Carpenter had a kill during the run, and the Stars didn't win back the serve until one of Creel's offerings landed out of bounds.
A pair of aces by Salverda made it 11-1, and while the Stars scrambled for two more points, the Panthers never let the Stars get any momentum going and two serves by Creel, with points won on kills by Fay and Carpenter, ended the game.
Creel took her momentum into the third game, stepping to the service line with the Panthers up 1-0 and firing off seven straight points. Katie Lewis finished off the match for the Panthers, serving points nine through 15 and ending the game with an ace.
"The whole team contributed," Carpenter said. "Everybody hit, everybody passed, everybody got to serve."
Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said the Stars were short two key players -- Rachel Besse was on a college recruiting trip and Hillary Zobeck saw limited action in the back row due to an injured ankle -- but refused to use that as an excuse.
"We had a lot of young players out there. I don't know if they were a little intimidated," Whannell said. "A lot of them gave a good effort. We were just off all the way around. You can't blame it on Rachel and Hill not being there. There were a number of things we didn't do as a team."
Saturday, Skyview kept on rolling by sweeping visiting Wasilla to finish 9-1 in the region. The scores in the games were 15-4, 15-1 and 15-3.
"It's very encouraging to end up 9-1 in the region," Kupferschmid said. "I never would have thought it at the beginning of the year.
"I considered this a building year. The kids have really responded."
Carpenter led Skyview with 15 kills, while Creel had 12 kills and Amanda Fay had five kills.
Carpenter also had a stellar evening on defense, going 14 for 14 on digs. Gephardt was 5 of 7 on digs.
Colvin had 21 assists, and also served for 11 points. Gephardt served for seven points and Creel served for 13 points.
Salverda paced Skyview with seven kill blocks, while Anna Bonebrake had two blocks.
Homer 3, Soldotna 0
The host Mariners wrapped up the second seed in Region III/4A's Southern Division Saturday by sweeping the Stars.
Homer finished 7-3 in the region while Soldotna finished 5-5 in the region. Soldotna will be the third seed from the Southern Division.
The Stars could have gotten the second seed if they had won the match, since it would have left them tied with Homer and Soldotna had defeated Homer in a region match earlier in the year.
Homer 3, Wasilla 2
The host Mariners got a big weekend of region play off to a solid start Friday by knocking off the Warriors.
The scores were 4-15, 15-12, 15-7, 6-15, 15-9.
Kenai 3, Kodiak 0
Kenai 3, Kodiak 1
The visiting Kardinals picked up their second region win of the season Friday, then capped it off with a nonconference victory Saturday.
Kenai finishes at 2-8 in the region, and will be the fourth seed from the Southern Division.
The scores Friday were 15-4, 15-6 and 16-14. The scores Saturday were 15-4, 12-15, 15-1 and 15-3.
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