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PHOENIX — The defending Skyline Conference champion Phoenix volleyball team brushed off a challenging second set in Thursday's league opener to defeat North Valley, 25-16, 27-25, 25-21.
"It was a pretty good start (to the season) for us," said Phoenix coach Candace Fleener. "I'd like to see us start a little stronger though. I think there were some nerves in the beginning with it being our first conference game."
The Pirates (5-2, 1-0 Sky) did come out strong, roaring out to a 16-3 lead in the opening set. But the Knights made Phoenix work for it by battling to within 21-15 before the Pirates closed it out.
The Knights (1-5, 0-1) tested the Pirates again in a seesawing second set, which North Valley nearly stole before the Phoenix shook its complacency to go up two games to none.
"We relaxed a lot and the girls kind of stopped pushing as hard," said Fleener. "(North Valley) had a couple of good diggers. We really had to work hard and step it up to come back and take that set."
Outside hitter Baylee Toney led the Pirates' attack with 10 kills while fellow outside hitter Hailey Wyncoop and middles Adriana Mereida-Ford and Sydney Amundsen each chipped in seven kills. Mereida-Ford also had four aces.
Pirates setter Karlie Richardson compiled 33 assists, and libero Ashlyn Ford provided a good defensive showing to go with nine digs, two kills and a pair of aces.
For the Knights, Haleigh Wagman posted 10 kills. She and Sydney Stone both added 11 digs while Madison Stegemiller contributed five kills and three aces.
In her first conference start as a setter, Rashelle Garcia racked up 23 assists for North Valley.
HIDDEN VALLEY 3, KLAMATH UNION 0 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley opened the Skyline Conference with a 25-6, 25-12, 25-10 victory.
The Mustangs are 8-0 overall.
CRATER 3, EAGLE POINT 1 — At Central Point, Kelsey Strouse and Destiny Fahndrich paced Crater to a 25-14, 25-15, 20-25, 25-16 nonleague victory.
Strouse had seven kills, 26 digs and five aces, and Destiny Fahndrich notched 11 kills.
Also for the Comets (2-5), Cassidy Layton had five aces and 15 assists, Paige Berriochoa three aces and two blocks, Kelli Grey 32 digs and Kenya Hokenson three blocks.
The Eagles dropped to 1-7.
ROSEBURG 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 0 — Roseburg improved its overall record to 14-1 with a 25-7, 25-12, 25-13 Southern Oregon Hybrid victory at South Medford High.
Brittany Miller and Claire Sporer led the Panthers (1-3 SOH) with three kills apiece.
GRANTS PASS 3, ASHLAND 0 — At Grants Pass, junior middle blocker Hope Baldrica had eight kills and six blocks but Ashland struggled from the service stripe in the nonleague match.
Grants Pass (5-4) won 25-20, 25-21, 25-23 at Grants Pass High.
Ashland junior setter Jordan Tilley had 24 assists, four kills and three blocks, senior outside hitter Hannah Borgerson eight kills and one block and sophomore middle blocker Ellie Case four kills and four blocks for the Grizzlies (2-5).
ST. MARY'S 3, ROGUE RIVER 1 — At Rogue River, Dakota Rothfus led St. Mary's in its opening Southern Cascade Hybrid match, an 18-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-20 victory.
Rothfus had six kills, five aces and five blocks for the Crusaders (4-5).
For Rogue River (0-4), Darby Gibson and Kortney Moore had six kills apiece.
LOST RIVER 3, ILLINOIS VALLEY 2 — At Cave Junction, Illinois Valley and Lost River battled throughout the nonleague match before the Raiders posted a 25-11, 10-25, 27-29, 25-23, 20-18 victory.
Keyanna Augustadt had eight service aces for the Cougars (1-6), and Alex LaFlamme and Brittany Burns provide strong play at the net.
HENLEY 2, EAGLE POINT 1 — At Klamath Falls, Jacob Carpenter scored in the 70th minute to give Henley the nonconference win.
Eagle Point (2-2-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute when Jose Lopez dribbled through several defenders and crossed to Kevin Van Dyke, who powered in a shot.
Henley tied it a minute before halftime on a goal by Lake Petersen.
HENLEY 2, EAGLE POINT 0 — At Eagle Point, goalkeeper Ali Nesberg had a busy day for Eagle Point, blocking 20 shots on frame in the nonconference loss.
Henley's goals came in the eighth and 43rd minutes.
Eagle Point is 2-1-1 overall.
BROOKINGS-HARBOR 4, HIDDEN VALLEY 2 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley's overall record dropped to 0-4 with the nonconference setback.