By Darryl Warner
The Skyline volleyball team traveled a short distance on Tuesday to earn a much longer trip on Thursday.
The Eagles swept Livonia Churchill 3-0 (25-15, 25-17 and 25-12) in Tuesday’s Division 1 State Quarterfinal game at Huron HS to earn a spot in the semifinals. Skyline will face its toughest challenge so far during their remarkable playoff run on Tuesday when they play No. 1 Farmington Hills Mercy at 6:30 p.m. at the Kellogg Center in Battle Creek. This is the Eagles’ first trip to the Final Four in volleyball.
Despite both teams battling for each point early in the first set, the Eagles began to pull away when Stacie Warner provided an assist to Harper Murray to take a 9-7 lead over the Chargers. The Eagles would go on to win the next 5 out of 7 points to take a 14-9 lead, highlighted by kills from Sasha Akuezue and Kendall Murray. Sensing the game getting away from them with Skyline ahead 17-11, the Chargers called timeout. For the first time in 13 weeks, following a major leg injury in August, sophomore Lauren Lee, returned to the court as the Eagles pressed forward to win the first set 25-15.
The Eagles continued to demonstrate their dominance as they got out to an early 11-7 lead, behind kills from Harper Murray, Kendall Murray, Sophie Schrag and Sasha Akuezue. The Eagles did not let up and the Chargers called timeout as the Eagles opened up a 17-10 lead. The Eagles were relentless in the middle as they scored on a number kills and blocks in the second set. The Eagles never relinquished their 7 point lead and won the second set 25-17.
In the third set the Eagles opened up a 3-0 lead but Churchill answered with three straight points and tied the score 3-3. Despite the quick comeback the Eagles soared ahead to take a commanding 13-6 lead, highlighted by two aces from Stacie Warner and a kill from Sasha Akuezue. Following a Churchill timeout the Eagles continued to dominate the court with kills from Schrag, Kendal Murray and Harper Murray, opening the Eagles lead to 20-10. The Chargers would only score two more points and the Eagles won the third set 25-12.