The roller coaster ride that has been Skyview High School volleyball for the past two weeks came to stop Saturday with the Panthers capturing fourth place at the Alaska School Activities Association State 4A Championships.
"I think the kids are walking away very fulfilled," Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said after the Panthers defeated Service in four games in Saturday's fourth-place match.
"The stress is over. When you have a good team, there's big expectations. For us to go 18-2 this year -- I never would have expected that."
The Panthers came out of the Region III/4A tournament on top of the world after a five-game win over Palmer in the title match. All that momentum came crashing down in their state tournament opener, a loss to Bartlett.
Kendra Groves, mascot for the Skyview Panthers, takes a break during a high school state volleyball championship semifinal game against West Valley in Anchorage, Alaska, Friday, Nov. 15, 2002.
AP Photo/Al Grillo
The Panthers rebounded to finish the season on an up note, though, defeating West Valley in three games, 15-9, 15-3, 15-7, to advance to Saturday's match against the Region IV-champion Cougars.
Things appeared to be going Service's way as the Cougars jumped out to an 8-1 lead en route to a 15-10 win.
Skyview took it one rally at a time in game two, scrapping for a point here and a point there, and Christina Colvin was able to serve for game point, leveling the match with a 15-13 win.
"I think when the kids came back to win that second set, that gave them life," Kupferschmid said.
That little bit of momentum went a long way as Colvin served for the first two points of game three, and Lindsay Gephardt rattled off 11 consecutive points from the service line as Skyview won 15-0.
"We needed some time to wake up, then we started adjusting to their play," Skyview's Nynke Salverda said.
Gephardt continued her service streak with an ace to open game four, and the Panthers had clutch play all over the floor -- Salverda, Jenny Carpenter, Laurel Creel, Amanda Fay, Katie Lewis and Anna Bonebrake at the net, Gephardt, Amber Kunz in the back row, and steady setting from Colvin -- en route to clinching the match with a 15-12 win.
Skyview's Christina Colvin (8) prepares to set the ball up after West Valley's Jessie Starr (6) hit it over the net during a Class 4A high school volleyball semifinal game in Anchorage, Alaska, Friday, Nov. 15, 2002. Skyview beat West Valley.
AP Photo/Al Grillo
"We came out not wanting to lose in the first two games," Carpenter said. "After (winning the second game), we knew we could win. The whole team contributed. I think everybody had a great game. It was a great way to end the season."
Colvin said she enjoyed the journey -- with all its ups and downs.
"Going to state never gets old," said Colvin, a three-year veteran of state competition. "It's awesome -- especially the road to state. I couldn't have asked for more."
Salverda said she never expected to go to the state tournament, and added that she enjoyed the experience.
"I didn't expect it to be this intense -- it was fun," Salverda said.
Carpenter said the Panthers could be happy with fourth place.
"I guess we're satisfied for where we ended up," Carpenter said. "We would've liked to have been in the championship, but losing that first match is hard. You don't get a chance to come back to try for third or first."
Kupferschmid said the loss to Bartlett was the only disappointment in what turned out to be a remarkable season.
"I thought we played good volleyball today," Kupferschmid said. "There some mistakes today we shouldn't have made, but that was our youth coming out. We're still a young team. For us to end up fourth is quite incredible."
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