by Kyle Koso
Chugging through their work Saturday at the Triple Crown Volleyball NIT, the Skyline 15 Elite from Dallas hadn’t faced much drama by the midpoint of their task, with one win in the books and a 1-0 lead against Sky High (Chicago) in their second match.
The sport is notorious for momentum shifts, however, and in the younger age groups the mood can shift even more drastically, and sure enough Skyline suddenly looked earthbound and stressed in Game 2. But Mark Flores’ squad found their spring and savvy in time, posting a 25-19, 20-25, 15-10 victory to lift spirits heading into their final contest later in the session.
Skyline took care of Game 1 in eye-popping fashion, as Shea Shore pulled off a miracle save at the net that ended up as a winner; that made it game point, and Shore closed it with a wicked kill from the right side. Sky High more than recovered, taking a big lead and leaving Flores a little short on solutions.
“Our passing fell apart; we were doing some different things with the lineup, and we struggled,” Flores said. “In Game 3, our serving was tough and accurate, and we weren’t making mistakes. We kept the ball in play and let them make the errors.
“We want the girls to be competing to make a run at the podium. If we don’t set that expectation, then they’ll come in and not even try. We play a lot of these teams, and we came in with a lower seed because of our finish in nationals last year. We had some bad injuries; we are hoping to redeem ourselves and possibly make a statement.”
In her own quiet way, Maya Joseph certainly spoke up with her play in Game 3, giving Skyline an early lead with two big kills. The teams stayed very close and were tied at 8-all; Sky High was hesitant on one play and lost a point, then lost another on a tough service error that pout Skyline up, 12-9.
Joseph smoked a big kill to make it 14-10, and the team defense was perfect at the end, authoring a block for the final point.
“We not a team that talks a lot, but in the first set we were talking more … we had more energy, but we got ahead of ourselves,” Joseph said. “We needed to slow things down and play our game, not just what they gave us. I like to get amped up (in pressure situations); the energy of having something on the line makes me want to play better, and when you get the kill it feels really good, because everyone is hyped for you. It’s a good moment.”