Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
ASHLAND — The Class 6A North Medford volleyball team needed every last point to edge 5A Ashland during a thrilling five-set nonleague battle at Mountain Avenue Gym on Tuesday.
The Black Tornado prevailed, 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 28-26, 15-13.
"It was tight," a relieved North head coach Erika Wright said. "It was tight."
North senior middle hitter Elle Bixler helped lead the charge with 16 kills, while sophomore outside Emily Carter contributed 14 kills and 13 digs.
Freshman outside Ashley Ripplinger chipped in seven kills, five aces and 10 digs and setter Taylor Otoski went for 15 digs, 43 assists and three aces.
Katy Carter led North (9-5) in digs with 20.
The Black Tornado needed to rally after losing the second and third sets. Game 4 was back and forth.
"We took a lead on them in the beginning and then they climbed back in, and after that it was point for point the rest of the way," Wright said. "At the end of the third set I felt like we had some momentum going into the fourth set, and that helped us get that lead. But then they climbed back in and then we went point for point all the way through until we got them, 28-26."
Then came the decisive fifth, when the Grizzlies jumped out to a four-point lead before North responded. Emily Carter registered several successful serves and Ripplinger knocked over some key kills late to seal it.
For the Grizzlies (6-9), Jordan Tilley turned in six aces, 22 digs and 36 assists and Hope Baldrica four blocks and eight kills.
Grace Lenthe had seven kills and two blocks and Myla Norvell 22 digs.
Ashland's Grace Geisslinger (libero) and Carly Walker (middle back) contributed strong efforts.
"The whole match was just hard fought on both sides," Ashland head coach Robin Akpan said. "I am really proud of the way my girls played tonight. North Medford was great competition."
GRANTS PASS 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 0 — A big defensive effort by Grants Pass helped clinch a state playoff berth with the 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 victory at the South Medford gym.
Claire Sporer, a senior outside hitter, paced the South Medford (4-10, 1-7 SOH) frontline with 12 kills and 12 digs. Sophomore middle Jasmine Falls added four kills and three blocks.
The Panthers received 22 digs and three aces from senior libero Grace Sporer, while setter Kelsey Bartlett dished out 15 assists to go with 12 digs and two aces.
The Grants Pass defense was sparked by Halee Rose with 25 digs. The Cavers got 10 kills from Emily Henderson and Amy Robinson and Baylee Simonsen had seven kills each. Emily Gill provided 27 assists for the Cavers (10-5, 4-2).
ROSEBURG 3, CRATER 0 — At Roseburg, Kiana Cash had 23 assists and Morgan Haskett added 13 kills and eight digs in Roseburg's 25-16, 25-15, 25-20 Southern Oregon Hybrid win.
Kourtney Lomica added nine kills against Crater (3-10, 1-6 SOH).
NORTH VALLEY 3, PHOENIX 2 — At Merlin, Haleigh Wagman had 22 kills and three aces to propel North Valley to a 25-19, 25-15, 21-25, 21-25, 15-8 win in Skyline Conference action.
Kady Kantola, who moved to libero, chipped in 28 digs and three aces for the Knights (5-9, 3-3 Sky).
Rashelle Garcia went for 38 assists and three aces against Phoenix (8-4, 4-2 Sky).
HIDDEN VALLEY 3, KLAMATH UNION 0 — At Klamath Falls, undefeated Hidden Valley swept the Skyline Conference match, 25-16, 25-16, 25-6.
McKenzie Cushman turned in five aces, 24 assists and seven kills for the Mustangs (13-0, 6-0 Sky).
Colleen Bailey had four aces and 16 digs and Lacey Maynard five kills and four blocks against Klamath Union (2-9, 0-6 Sky).
ROGUE RIVER 3, ST. MARY'S 1 — Rogue River pulled out a 25-23, 11-25, 26-24, 25-21 win over St. Mary's in Southern Cascade Hybrid action at St. Mary's High.
Rogue River improved to 3-5 overall, 2-3 in the SCH. St. Mary's dropped to 6-10 overall, 2-3 in league.
LAKEVIEW 3, ILLINOIS VALLEY 0 — At Cave Junction, Delaney Hall had 10 kills to help lead Lakeview to a 25-10, 25-22, 25-18 win in Southern Cascade Hybrid action.
Ashley Reese finished with seven service aces for the Honkers (9-4, 4-1 SCH).
Illinois Valley dropped to 2-11, 0-6 in league.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, LOST RIVER 0 — At Merrill, Karlee Britton had 12 kills on only 15 swings before sitting out the third set, leading Cascade Christian to a 25-9, 25-7, 25-18 nonleague win.
Madigan Smith had six kills and five aces, her twin Katelyn Smith also had six kills and setter Alyssa Brown tallied 21 assists in two sets of action for the Challengers (11-6), who have won five of their last six matches.
Lost River fell to 1-9.