By Jim Laise - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Skyline's volleyball team stared down elimination Wednesday night at Handley High School and refused to blink with a demonstrative three-set decision over Millbrook in the play-in game of the Northwestern District tournament at Hunter Maddex-Jimmy Omps Gymnasium.
The Hawks slammed the Pioneers 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 to earn the right to take on top seed James Wood on Thursday night in the tournament semifinals at Handley.
James Wood handled the second-seeded Judges in a one-game playoff 25-9, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16.
A week ago it was Millbrook (5-16), which took the final home match of the regular season, outlasting Skyline (8-11) in five sets.
But it was a sharper, seemingly more refreshed team that Skyline coach Lesley Detweiler put on the floor at the Maddex-Omps gym.
Skyline, which will play the Colonels at 6 p.m., really only seemed threatened in the first set.
After that, the Hawks soared.
"We talked about it before we played tonight; that this could be the last time the girls played," Detweiler said. "This was for the seniors, and, really, for everybody because you never know, you could sprain an ankle and end your career."
"This was on our minds all the way," said senior outside hitter Sarah Beamer. "We knew this could be our last game and we weren't going to let that happen."
"I just told them, whatever they do individually, improve as much as you can," added Detweiler.
Skyline was ahead in the first set 24-16 -- the second time in the set it led by as many as eight points -- when the Pioneers launched a comeback, scoring four straight points.
But after Detweiler called a timeout, Katara Edwards' spike won the set.
After that, the Hawks never trailed again. In fact, Millbrook only tied them once -- at 6-all of the third set.
The Hawks scored the first four points of set two; included were Lauren Moore's three aces.
Millbrook later scored four straight points on unforced errors by Skyline to pull within two, 14-12.
Ahead 19-18, the Hawks reeled off six straight points to take the set going away.
Jenny Norman started off the run with a spike; then Millbrook committed two unforced errors. After a timeout by Pioneer coach Ashley Sutphin, Beamer scored an ace. There was another unforced error and then Edwards' collected her second straight set point with a spike.
Skyline scored six straight points midway through set three on their way to the match.
"Consistency is something we've been talking about all year -- whether it's playing every point, every game, or every match," said Detweiler.
Beamer scored five kills, two spikes and a block. Meanwhile, junior Moore contributed four aces and three kills.