By Darryl Warner
The Skyline volleyball team didn’t suffer a letdown after the Eagles big win over Saline in the opening round of Districts. Playing city rival Pioneer certainly helped the Eagles maintain the focus.
The Eagles advances through the District 17 semifinals Wednesday evening by beating Ann Arbor Pioneer in three straight sets. One of the greatest fears a coach has after winning a rollercoaster game two nights earlier is for his or her team to enter their next match either emotionally flat or lethargic. Fortunately, Skyline did not experience a letdown against crosstown rival Pioneer, winning all three games 25-13, 25-16, and 25-18.
The Eagles advance to the District 17 championship game at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Dexter at Saline HS. The Dreadnaughts swept Huron in the other semifinal game.
In the first set on Wednesday, the Eagles flew out to a 5-2 lead off difficult serves that included aces from Olivia Cristian and a couple of kills by Kendall Murray. Skyline would maintain a 10-5 lead as a result of Pioneer struggling to gain control of serve. Pioneer would score two consecutive points, but Skyline answered with a run of 6 hard earned points from a combination of kills from Murray and a tip from Cristian opening the lead to 17-7.
Both teams traded scores back and forth for a couple of points before Lauren Lee delivered an ace opening the lead for the Eagles to 21-9. Pioneer would only score four more points and Skyline would win the first set 25-13 after Pioneer hit the net antennae.
Skyline started the second set similar to the first set by jumping out to a 6-2 lead. Pioneer would close the gap to 8-5 after blocking a Skyline kill shot. After several points from both teams Skyline would open the lead again 10-6 off a kill from Sasha Akuezue. Pioneer would score their 7th point off of a kill down the line, but Skyline would answer with five consecutive points and open their lead to 16-7. Pioneer would benefit from several errors by Skyline and close the score to 18-11. After several points between the two teams, Pioneer served into the net. Skyline answered with two consecutive points with Stacie Warner serving one point for an ace and increasing the lead to 23-13. Skyline would go on to win the second set 25-16 after a Pioneer hit that soared out of bounds.
Pioneer scored the first two points of set three off back-to-back kills. The Eagles would answer and tie the score 2-2 off a kill from Murray. Pioneer would tie the score and take the lead 4-3 following a Skyline passing error. A kill by Murray would tie the score 4-4, who also would score 2 consecutive aces opening the Eagles lead to 6-4. Both teams continued to play hard and regain serve for several points.
With the score in favor of Skyline 10-7 and aiming to close out the match in three sets, the Eagles scored seven straight points to open a 17-7 lead. Skyline pulling away from Pioneer was highlighted by a tip from Lauren Lee and kills from Nora Halloran and Murray. Pioneer gained momentum and closed the lead to 20-15.
Skyline would gain control of their offensive and defensive play and won the third set 25-18.