Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Cascade Christian volleyball coach Rob Kleker had a mind to switch things up in order to gain more perspective on his young team Tuesday after the Challengers won the opening two sets against visiting Yreka.
Suffice it to say, Kleker got more than he bargained after the move.
In the nonleague opener for Cascade Christian, the host team earned wins of 26-24 and 25-19 in the first two sets to leave the Challengers within one set of a victory at Cascade Christian High.
Yreka, however, discovered a change in fortunes after that and went on to claim the five-setter with 25-11, 25-13, 15-12 victories in the final three sets.
"We felt fairly comfortable coming out of the first couple sets and I made a couple changes in rotations to see a different look because we haven't really had that chance so far," said Kleker.
He got a different look all right. The Challengers went from a straight one-setter style to another that featured two setters — Kleker's squad is utilizing a freshman and a sophomore at the position — and the change put the brakes on his team's momentum.
"It affected the rhythm just enough," said Kleker, who went back to the one-setter approach in the fourth and fifth sets but to no avail. "We lost everything we had going for us. We had an opportunity to get some of it back in that fifth set but we just couldn't get it done."
In the pivotal fifth set, Yreka opened a 9-3 lead but the Challengers cut their deficit to 12-10 before losing steam.
Karlee Britton paced Cascade Christian with 12 kills, while Trudy Burns had eight kills and four aces and Paige Bruce notched 23 digs.
PHOENIX 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 2 — At Phoenix, a big fourth-set surge tied the match and sparked host Phoenix to a five-set nonleague victory over Class 6A South Medford, 25-22, 24-26, 19-25, 25-16, 15-10.
The Class 4A Pirates picked up seven kills from Baylee Toney, six from Sydney Amundsen and five from Adrianna Mereida-Ford to edge the Panthers, who made it difficult to score with several fine defensive efforts.
Ashlyn Ford added 10 digs and Lyzett Gutierrez six for Phoenix, which finished runner-up at the Yreka Tournament on Saturday. Karlie Richardson tallied 26 assists and Bailee Tally notched five aces.
HIDDEN VALLEY 3, EAGLE POINT 0 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley ramped up its defensive effort to earn a three-game sweep in the nonleague affair, routing Eagle Point 25-22, 25-15, 25-12.
Megan Combe had 16 kills and 18 digs and McKenzie Cushman added 35 assists and four aces to pace the Mustangs. Middle hitter Chloe Lindgren added eight blocks and six kills, while Hidden Valley kept the floor clean behind 16 digs from libero Colleen Bailey and 17 digs by outside hitter/defensive specialist Taylor Larson.
ST. MARY'S 3, ETNA (Calif.) 2 — Junior middle blocker Dakota Rothfus had 15 kills, four aces and two crucial service winners that clinched the nonconference win for St. Mary's at St. Mary's High School.
With the scored tied at 15 in the fifth set, Rothfus delivered back-to-back jump serves that Etna could not return, giving the Crusaders their first win of the season, 25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 23-25, 17-15.
Maddy Gregg added 25 assists for St. Mary's (1-1).