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North squeaks out victory over Cavers


GRANTS PASS-- There were enough momentum swings to frazzle nerves on both sides at the new Heater-Newman Gym Tuesday night.

Defending Southern Oregon Conference volleyball champion North Medford took advantage of the final jolt in momentum to eke out a 15-10, 14-16, 15-12 victory in the season opener for both teams.

North trailed 12-11 when junior Jill Carrigan stepped to the serving line. The last of several critical junctures came with the count tied 12-12. Carrigan served what would have likely been an ace.

But the referee blew the ball dead and yellow-carded the Grants Pass crowd. The Black Tornado was awarded the 13th point and Carrigan served out the match.

I think both teams took turns playing real well and then looking like it was the beginning of the season at other times, North Medford coach Ron Beick said.

The third game turned into a tactical contest. It took six rotations for the Cavers to take a 4-0 lead.

Both teams were playing a safe game, said first-year Grants Pass coach Nickola Johnson. They weren't hitting with power and we weren't.

It took six more rotations for North to even things at 9-9 with Kara Hwang serving.

I'm really proud of how we hung in there, Beick said. We were down 9-5 and had missed five serves. It didn't look very good. Then I thought the whole team picked it up a level and our passing became more efficient.

Middles Chaley Higgins and Kendra Mitchell picked up key kills in the stretch drive.

Higgins, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, finished with eights kills. Mitchell, a junior, added six kills, two blocks, six digs and four aces. Carrigan chipped in with 11 digs and Hwang nine. Kaci Maldonado doled out 24 assists.

Grants Pass took a 10-5 lead in the first game before North countered with a 10-point run.

The Tornado jumped in front 6-0 in the second game but couldn't shake the Cavers.

They took control at that point, Beick said. We were tentative and they were aggressive. They dug well and pulled it out.

Gabby Rathburn had nine kills, Casey Higgins had six and Kaci Williams five for Grants Pass, which missed just four serves on the night.

ASHLAND 15-15, EAGLE POINT 1-6-- At Eagle Point, the Ashland Grizzlies roared out to an 11-0 lead in the first game and a 9-0 lead in the second in earning their first Southern Oregon Conference victory of the season.

Amy Williams paced Ashland with seven kills, while Rachel Karlin added five. Chelsea Morgan chipped in 28 assists, while Jill Stranberg had six digs for the Grizzlies (1-0).

KLAMATH UNION 15-15, ROSEBURG 8-11-- At Klamath Falls, senior Kristina Matchett had 19 kills and junior Kaylene Munson added 12 to pace the Pelicans in the Southern Oregon Conference opener for both teams.

The middle hitters helped control the net, while senior Jen Brennan added 31 assists and sophomore Maggie Fisher came up with nine digs and some excellent passing.

Roseburg led early in both games before KU (4-1, 1-0 Skyline) rallied to gain the victories.