It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
MURPHY — The last time the Phoenix volleyball team won a Skyline Conference championship, Shonda Bursk was the Pirates' senior setter.
That was eight years ago, in 2004.
Now, Bursk is Phoenix's head coach, and her team is on top once again.
In a high-stakes match, the Pirates swept Hidden Valley 25-23, 27-25, 25-21 to capture the Skyline crown.
"I can not even believe it," said Bursk, who took over the team in 2005. "The program has been up and down for a long time and I couldn't be prouder or more excited to be a part of it again. Hopefully we'll play up for a long time."
Phoenix was 8-13 overall last year and 5-14 in 2010.
The Pirates (17-5, 9-1 Sky) and the Mustangs (12-6, 8-2 Sky) both entered the regular-season finale with 8-1 records in conference play. The two squads had faced each other three times this year, with Hidden Valley taking two of the matches (including the first conference meeting on Oct. 4).
Junior setter Ashlyn Flynn had 12 kills, including five points on seven attempts and no errors in the last game. She added 19 digs.
Haleigh Wagman offered up nine kills and led the Pirates in serving with a perfect 15-for-15 mark and three aces.
Karlie Richardson recorded 14 assists and Baylee Toney added five blocks against a tough Mustang squad.
"They are just scrappers," Bursk said of Hidden Valley. "It's really hard to get something to land on their side. Last time we struggled and played discombobulated. This time we kept our composure and didn't let things get crazy."
HENLEY 3, NORTH VALLEY 1 — At Merlin, Henley topped North Valley 25-19, 23-25, 25-10, 25-15 in Skyline play.
The Hornets finished the regular season 10-10 overall and 6-4 in league play. North Valley was 5-12 overall and 3-7 in conference action.
SOUTH MEDFORD 3, EAGLE POINT 0 — South Medford won the nonconference match, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, concluding the regular season.
The Panthers (8-12, 2-6 SOH) finished in a three-way tie with Crater and Grants Pass for third place in the SOH and will have tiebreakers Thursday. The matches will be at South Medford because it has the highest OSAA power ranking of the three. Crater and Grants Pass will tentatively play at 5 p.m., and South Medford takes on the winner at 7:15.
The top finisher advances to state; the other two face play-in matches.
Against Eagle Point, Panther junior Claire Sporer had nine kills and senior Bri Fidow eight. Junior Grace Sporer recorded 28 digs, junior Liz Devaughn had 32 assists and senior Bree Polk amassed five kills and seven blocks.
NORTH MEDFORD 3, GRANTS PASS 0 — At Grants Pass, Katy Carter turned in 11 kills and 12 digs and Elle Bixler added nine kills in North Medford's victorious 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 Southern Oregon Hybrid regular-season finale.
Emily Carlson had six kills, six digs and two blocks, Ashley Smith 22 digs and Telsche Munson 12 digs and 27 assists for the Black Tornado (11-8, 6-2 SOH), which fought through several long rallies and used tough ball control and steady system play to counteract the Cavers' return game.
Grants Pass dropped to 5-13 overall and 2-6 in league play.
ROSEBURG 3, ASHLAND 0 — At Roseburg, Gabby Kearney had 12 kills and Kiana Cash 29 assists as Roseburg swept Ashland in the nonleague match, 25-13, 25-11, 25-19.
The Grizzlies (11-9) were led by Phoebe Challman's 12 digs and Madeline Wallace's nine kills and three blocks.
Roseburg snapped a five-match losing skid to improve to 24-9.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, ILLINOIS VALLEY 0 — At Cave Junction, Cascade Christian completed an undefeated SCH season with a 25-16, 25-11, 25-14 victory.
The Challengers (17-5, 8-0 SCH) enter the SCH tournament Saturday at Cascade Christian as the top seed and are guaranteed a state tournament berth. After St. Mary's and Lakeview play at 1 p.m., the Challengers face the winner at 3 p.m. The top two teams advance to state.
Against Illinois Valley, Karlee Britton and Courtney Case each had five kills, with Britton adding five service aces. Kayla Winter had six aces and Paige Bruce five.
LAKEVIEW 3, ROGUE RIVER 0 — At Lakeview, Rogue River dropped a straight-set match to host Lakeview, 25-20, 25-22, 25-19.