By Darryl Warner
Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, said it best, “There is no place like home.”
For the first time since the beginning of the season, the Skyline varsity volleyball team played their first conference match at home on Tuesday night as they hosted crosstown rival Huron. The Eagles came into the match looking to bounce back after losing a tough battle to Temperance Bedford.
Excited to see his team play after five days since their last match, Coach Chris Cristian’s message to his team was to play strong.
In game one, the Eagles performed as Cristian hoped and jumped out to a 9-2 lead. The fast start by the Eagles was highlighted by Rin Sato and three kills by Kendall Murray. Huron called timeout and went on a four point run to close the score to 9-6. Skyline maintained a four point lead at 12-8 until the Eagles scored six consecutive points behind the play of Lauren Lee, Olivia Cristian, and serves from McKenna Pfeffer, opening the lead to 18-8. Skyline maintained their lead with a stingy defense led by blocks at the net by Sasha Akuezue and sets from Lee to Cristian and Murray. Skyline won game one 25-12.
Huron started out game two with a 5-2 lead, but Skyline quickly gained control and took an 8-6 lead after a Lee set to Akuezue kill in the middle of the court. Huron called timeout to try to slow the momentum, but Skyline would take an 18-12 lead after several miscues by Ann Arbor Huron as they either missed serves, hit into the net, or hit balls out of bounds. Skyline maintained a 7 point lead through the remainder of the match and won game two 25-18.
Skyline entered game three hoping to finish off the River Rats, but they proved to not be a push over. The score remained close early on throughout the match and tied 5-5 after Skyline hit out of bounds. Skyline took a 9-7 lead after an ace by Maddie Sackman and a kill by Murray. The scored remained close at 12-10 until the Eagles opened the lead to 17-12 behind great defensive and offensive play by Akuezue, who contributed to two offensive points and one block for Skylines five point run. Skyline looked to finish off Huron, but they answered by running off 6 consecutive points of their own and taking an 18-17 lead. Coach Cristian called timeout but Huron scored three more points to increase their lead to 20-18. Huron opened their lead to 24-21 after a kill and ace on the Skylines backline. Huron won game three 25-21.
With momentum on the side of Huron, Skyline needed to take advantage of home court, play stronger and win game four. Huron led early, taking a 6-3 lead. Both teams fought hard for every point and the score was tied 8-8 before Huron was called for a yellow card. Huron called timeout and the Eagles would never relinquish the lead. Skyline went on a 5 point run behind kills from Murray, Cristian and a tip from Lee to open the lead to 14-8. Huron called a second timeout, but Skyline maintained their composure, scoring two more points widening the gap to 16-8. Scoring from Greta Schorer, Cristian, and Akuezue put Skyline comfortably ahead 21-12. Proven to benefit from home court advantage and playing as a team, Skyline finished game four 25-15, with a strike to the center of the court by Cristian.
The Eagles finish the night 13-5 in league play and prepare for a tournament this weekend at Skyline High school.