Ashland’s volleyball program had quite a run brewing from 2005-09, securing top-four state trophies in all five seasons.
SALEM — Outside hitter Claire Sporer had 19 kills and 21 digs as South Medford defeated McKay in a Class 6A volleyball play-in match Monday, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-18, 15-12.
In a short turnaround, the Panthers (8-13) earned a return trip north to take on Central Catholic of Portland, the state's top-ranked squad, on Wednesday.
"It's going to be a hard team to work with," said Panthers coach Sarah Costa of Central Catholic. "As long as we play hard and do our best, that's all we can ask. The No. 1 team in state — it's going to be a tough push, but I know we're all excited about it."
After South Medford sprung to an 8-4 lead in the fifth set, the Scots made a final push to cut the advantage to 11-9.
From there, the Panthers used a couple of key service points from Sporer, then controlled the pace.
Outside hitter Nicole Bell also made a big contribution for South with 16 kills, 16 digs and two blocks.
Libero Grace Sporer helped the Panthers match McKay's scrappy play with 44 digs, while setter Kelsey Bartlett provided 26 assists, 17 digs and a pair of aces.
The Panthers' Liz Devaughn added 16 assists and seven digs.
COTTAGE GROVE 3, PHOENIX 1 — At Phoenix, Phoenix had a difficult time matching up with Cottage Grove's hard-swinging outside hitters and fell short of a Class 4A playoff berth.
The Lions of the Sky-Em League claimed the play-in match, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 25-21.
For the Pirates (13-7), who finished second to Hidden Valley in the Skyline Conference, Olivia Young recorded 13 kills and Adriana Merieda-Ford added nine.
Pirates setter Karlie Richardson racked up 40 assists and three aces while Ashlyn Flynn notched 25 digs.
PHOENIX 3, CANYONVILLE 2 — At Canyonville, with three minutes remaining, Alex Vela booted in the go-ahead goal to boost Phoenix in a playoff tune-up match.
The Pirates (10-3-1) open the playoffs Nov. 5 against an opponent to be determined.
Vela, who scored two goals, received a pass from Guadelupe Flores and scored from about 10 yards out to preserve the victory against the champions of the 3A Special District 2 league.
After a scoreless first half, Gabriel Martin netted a loose ball to put the Pilots ahead 1-0 before the Pirates' Edgar Valdovinos knotted the score 10 minutes later.
In the 64th minute, Vela connected again to give the Pirates the lead on an assist from Eli Espana, but Clement Bufhimimana drew the Pilots even 2-all with a goal at the 74-minute mark.