Fortunately, Skyview High School lined up Alaska Game Bags as a sponsor for the Region III/4A volleyball tournament, because the Panthers bagged themselves one heck of a trophy Moose.
Skyview defeated the Palmer Moose in five thrilling games to win the Region III/4A championship on its home floor Saturday night.
Just how good was it? After emerging from the locker room, Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid's first comment was to ask if anyone else had ever seen a match like that. The only answer she got was, "Not in a long, long time."
"I told the kids that this kind of experience doesn't happen in a lifetime for most people, let alone 17- and 18-year-olds," Kupferschmid said. "The heart out there was incredible. They really came through in that last set -- they just would not quit."
Indeed, the match was everything that a championship match should be, and then some. The Moose opened the match with a 15-10 win in the first game, but Palmer's Emily Sakis, the Northern Division season MVP, rolled an already-injured ankle on the first point of the second game.
Skyview's Laurel Creel digs the ball in front of Amber Kunz during the third game of Saturday's Region III/4A championship.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Panthers took advantage of the time it took the Moose to regroup, jumping out to a 9-0 lead en route to leveling the match at a game apiece with a 15-6 win.
Skyview clung to that momentum to win game three 15-7, but Sakis shed the ice bag and returned to the court, helping the Moose rally for a 15-5 win in game four.
Game five was epic.
"Oh my god, that was the longest game ever," said Skyview's Christina Colvin. "It was so intense -- our team really kept it together. I'm proud of them. There were no mental mistakes at all -- that was a big key."
Skyview took an early 3-1 lead, but neither team ever trailed by more than three points throughout the game. Sakis powered the Moose to an 11-8 lead, hitting kill shots from both the front and back rows.
Skyview's back line did all it could to dig the Palmer barrage and keep the Panthers in the game, and Lindsey Gephardt was able to serve for three points, two of those rallies finished off with kills by Laurel Creel, to tie the game at 11.
Skyview's Jenny Carpenter (7) and Laurel Creel celebrate a point during the first of five games Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Palmer scored two more points to take a 13-11 on serves by Cate Jelle, but the Panthers refused to give up another. Skyview got one of those points back on a kill by Jenny Carpenter, then took a 14-13 lead when Gephardt returned to the service line to notch a pair of points, the second coming on another kill by Carpenter.
The Panthers lost their serve on a tip by Palmer, but Nynke Salverda recorded a kill with a hit off the Palmer blockers, sending Colvin to the line to serve for the match. Colvin delivered, and Carpenter finished things off with a thunderous kill.
"We put everything on the line for the last game," Carpenter said. "We have three seniors, and it was our last time on this court, and we had to leave everything out there."
For their part, the Moose also left everything on the court.
"We just had a little more (adversity) to overcome than we could do," said Palmer coach Steve Reynolds. "It was a perfect ending for a championship match -- it almost went into extra innings. I'm very proud of my girls. They played well. I could not be happier with the girls, though I could have been happier with the result, but Skyview's a great team."
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