ERIE -- Erie JV volleyball coach and physical education teacher Nancy Tanaka has seen a lot go down in her gym over the past 35 years of service to the Tigers.
On senior night at Erie, where they also paid tribute to the retiring Tanaka, a coach that has well over 800 wins at various levels, the Tigers made sure that everyone's final home game ended in style.
The Tigers took care of business against a very scrappy Skyline team that was in search of its first win of the season in three games 25-9, 25-18, 25-17.
"It was obviously emotional since this was my last game at home," said Erie senior Mya Michaelson, whose team improved to 15-7 overall and 8-6 in the Tri-Valley. "We knew that they were going to fight as hard as they can, so the biggest thing for us was to remain focused."
Erie entered the match sitting a No. 18 in the RPI, a number that will likely drop after the win. The Tigers will travel to Colorado Springs on Thursday to play Discovery Canyon in a playoff tune-up and await their regional fate this weekend when the CHSAA releases the 36-team regional bracket.
"We set goals week to week, but now we are that point in the year where we are not saying November 4th and 5th, we are saying November 10th and 11th and going into that week of preparation," said first year Tigers coach Molly Creek, who shined during her prep career at nearby Peak to Peak last decade.
"This is a team that believes in that because we have to overcome challenges, bad practices and bad matches and we need to break through and I believe this is the group to do it with."
On Tuesday night, the Tigers set the tone from the get-go against a Falcons team that they beat in three games last month. Down 5-4 in the first set, the Tigers went on a 14-0 run on Michaelson's serve that included three aces.
"The biggest part of things for us this season is that no matter who we are playing, we do our job," Creek said. "We play fast tempo and high energy volleyball, which has been a challenge depending on the team we played."
Erie closed out the first set rather quickly, had a few orginzational mistakes in the second game, found themselves trailing 13-11 midway though, but overcame again on the powerful hitting over Sophie Crawford and Sydney Crites.
The Tigers have qualified for the regional tournament each of the past few season, only to be bounced out rather quickly. There is an air of confidence around the Tigers that has them all believing that this time will be different no matter where they end up traveling to.
"This year we are definitely more hungry for it and more ready than ever, especially with a new coach," said Michaelson, who will play her college volleyball at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. "Honestly the biggest thing for us is keeping our emotions together. We are a really anxious team sometimes, and we can beat any team we want to, but we have to keep calm."
Skyline drops to 0-19 overall and 0-14 in the Tri-Valley. The Falcons will try to close the season on a winning note on Saturday in Golden.
Erie 3, Skyline 0
At ErieSkyline (0-19, 0-14)91817
Erie (15-7, 8-6)252525
Kills — Erie: Sydney Crites 13, Mya Michaelson 9, Sophie Crawford 8.
Assists — Erie: Jessica Amend 21, Megan Casillas 17.
Aces — Erie: Michaelson 9, Autymn Purcell 3.
Digs — Erie: Veronica Beltz 11, Crites 11.
Skyline stats were not available.