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North controls net and Grizz

Tornado wins Top-10 battle by 15-6, 15-6

ASHLAND -- A short list of bad memories inspired North Medford's volleyball team to stay on task with its 15-6, 15-6 triumph over the Ashland Grizzlies Tuesday night.

First, there was the recollection of falling apart in the Ashland gym last season when the Grizzlies kept digging up spike after spike.

Then there was the more immediate memory of a blown match last week when the Southern Oregon Conference's preseason favorite let Roseburg off the hook after demolishing the Indians 15-4 in the first game.

The lesson learned from last year was to mix up the shots. Last week, the Tornado discovered the need to keep on an even keel emotionally.

Last year, our intention was to bury the ball on the floor and they dug everything, North Medford coach Ron Beick said. We wanted to vary what we were doing and make it harder for them to know what to expect.

The Tornado accomplished that objective by swinging away from the left side, mixing in a few tips in the middle and a back row attack as well.

North also avoided letting down after jumping on the Grizzlies early.

We've had a tendency to die out in the second game and not have enough fire, North senior outside hitter Kristin Ferris said. We focused on staying emotionally strong and finishing hard.

Both the senior-laden, fourth-ranked Tornado and the junior-dominated, 10th-ranked Grizzlies are now 2-1 in SOC and 4-2 overall.

If it would've come down to just defense against defense, North coach Ron Beick said, I'd have to rate the two teams equal. But we're taller and we did a good job of blocking and controlling the net.

We complemented the power game with tips out of the middle and outside -- enough to keep them off-balance a bit.

Outside hitter Ali Mostue led North with 13 kills in 23 attacks, with a stuff block and six digs. Lacey Dalton notched 10 kills in 21 attacks and added four stuff blocks. Ferris collected seven kills in 16 attacks to go with a stuff block and 10 digs. Ali Piff converted all five of her attacks into kills, while setter Mandie Horn had 33 assists.

They played a lot smarter to night, admitted Ashland coach Josh Rohlfing. They were very intelligent and poised from the outset. We were a little shell-shocked and didn't get back into it until the 14th point of the second game.

They completely dominated the net and we couldn't read anything off our block.

North took a 5-2 lead in the first game before Ashland rallied briefly to knot the score at 5-5 with Chelsea Morgan serving.

Ferris and Dalton teamed up for a stuff block to give the Tornado the lead for good at 6-5. After that, North scored the rest of its points in two chunks: Ferris served for three points and then Dalton served the last six. Mostue had two kills and a block in the sequence.

Beick said the object at that point was to maintain the pace.

Ashland scored first in the second game and then saw the Tornado reel off 12 of the next 13 points.

Ashland has a tendency to stay in a cup shape (set), said Ferris. We wanted to hit into the corners and make them move out of their offense.

The Grizzlies briefly found it, but couldn't string anything together.

We could've blocked better and closed some blocks, Rohlfing said. We got beat up front. That was an experience factor and we just weren't as quick.

For us to be successful, we need to get into a structured defense, because we're not going to overpower anybody.

Rachel Fish had six kills in 23 attacks for Ashland with two digs. Loriana Berman notched five kills in 17 attacks with four digs and Amy Williams registered four kills in nine attacks, with four blocks and five digs.

We were more businesslike tonight, Dalton said. We didn't let them hit down the lines, we did an awesome job and stayed calm.

North Medford's Lacey Dalton (14) blocks Ashland's Rachael Karlin (8). - Photo by Bob Pennell