The Skyview High School volleyball team lost Saturday's Region III/4A Championship battle in three games to Wasilla.
And while the loss was a disappointing way to end the tournament, the Panthers do have two fantastic victories to point to -- namely their first and second round wins, which secured Skyview a trip to the state championships.
"This is special for Skyview," said Panthers coach Sheila Kupferschmid. "I don't want to take anything away from my kids. What an accomplishment -- to place second in regions, and to go the state tournament."
Skyview followed Thursday's opening-round win with an even more dramatic, four-game win over Palmer, a team that had gone unbeaten in region competition.
"It was something all of us wanted really, really bad," Skyview's Beth Massey said of the 15-13, 16-14, 11-15, 16-14 win over Palmer. "It was exciting because they were undefeated, it was our first time in a semifinal, it was the first time we had a chance to go to state -- there were lots of firsts for us."
The Panthers ran into a hot Wasilla team on Saturday, though, and Skyview never was able to grab the momentum in the championship match.
"When you give it your all like we did against Palmer -- and this could have happened to Wasilla after their match with Soldotna -- to come back the next night and expect to do it again, the better teams are going to come through," Kupferschmid said. "I thought we came out a little flat."
Skyview scored the first four points of the match, but the Warriors came back to win game one 15-11. Wasilla went on to win game two 15-8, and closed out the match with a 15-5 win in game three.
"That happens," Kupferschmid said. "You get matches where you don't get the little rolls and momentum goes their way. We had that against Palmer.
"I think Wasilla created that. They came out and played a flawless match."
"It was tough losing after two big wins," Massey said. "Things didn't go our way."
Skyview was tied with Wasilla at 3-3 in game two before the Warriors' Amanda Gehring served seven straight points.
Skyview's Amanda Bauer stopped the run when she stuffed an over-pass by the Warriors, but the Panthers couldn't cut into the Wasilla lead with their serve.
Christina Colvin, Massey and Angel Hollers added points from the service line to get the Panthers to within five points on four occasions, but Skyview never got closer in game two.
Wasilla kept the momentum going in game three, putting together service runs of four or five points while limiting the Panthers to one or two at a time.
"Blocking," Massey said, pointing out a facet of the game that the Panthers were edged by the Warriors. "Our passing was on, our serve-receive did really good. Usually, if our passing is there, we can pull it out, but Wasilla played really good defense."
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