It didn't take long for the cross-town rivalry between North Medford and South Medford to heat up.
In an early Southern Oregon Hybrid volleyball matchup between the two schools, the Black Tornado earned the edge in a 25-14, 25-20, 26-24 victory over the Panthers at South Medford High on Thursday.
Both squads had played in just one nonleague match entering the contest.
The two teams have been trading wins recently, as North won both its matches against South last season, South won both its matches against North in 2010 and North won both its matches against South in 2009.
"The rivalry against South is an important one to our school and to our girls and to Medford in general," North head coach Erika Wright said. "It's fun to get out there and get a win in three."
Senior outside hitter Emily Carlson had nine kills and junior middle blocker Elle Bixler turned in seven kills and three aces for the Black Tornado (2-0, 1-0 SOH). Freshman outside hitter Emily Carter recorded six kills, senior setter Telsche Munson had 24 assists and senior libero Ashley Smith added 10 digs.
The final set saw South (1-1, 0-1 SOH) take an early lead before North rallied. The game swung back and forth late before North sealed the deal with a pair of kills.
"My team, when they serve with pace and serve accurately, they can put teams out of system and that can help us quite a bit," Wright said. "We have a heavy emphasis on that this year and the girls are scrappy."
Wright said she is pleased with the leadership that Carlson, Munson and Smith have shown as seniors this season.
"They are not only talking to kids and telling them what is going on, they are leading by example," Wright said.
Junior libero Grace Sporer registered 15 digs and junior outside hitter Claire Sporer added four kills for South, which features a lineup that includes returning senior middle Bree Polk.
"We just feel like (North) brought it tonight and we didn't," said South head coach Sarah Costa, whose squad was 12-11 overall and 3-5 in conference play in 2011.
Junior defensive specialist Katy Carter offered key support for North, which went 14-8 overall and finished second to Roseburg in the SOH with a 6-2 record last year.