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Tornado secures ninth straight bid to state playoffs

SOC Volleyball

With two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior in his starting lineup, North Medford High volleyball coach Ron Beick knew his team would be hard-pressed to make the state playoffs for a ninth straight year.

But the Black Tornado got a little better each time out, and Tuesday night it clinched a playoff berth with a 25-16, 26-24, 27-25 victory over Eagle Point in the North gym.

Fittingly, Stacey Casebier ' North Medford's lone senior starter ' ended the match with a kill down the line.

That was a great way for Stacey to finish her last match on her home court, Beick said. She walked off the court having completed the task.

North Medford, now 8-5 in the SOC and 9-6 overall, can finish in a tie for third place with Crater or Roseburg if the Tornado defeats Grants Pass on Thursday. Crater and Roseburg are a game ahead in the standings but meet each other Thursday in Roseburg.

Casebier registered 11 kills to pace the Tornado at the net, while freshman outside hitter Jessica Walters had nine kills, seven blocks and two aces.

After losing the first game, Eagle Point built leads of 5-0 and 10-3 in Game 2, but Casebier then served North into a 10-10 tie.

The game was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way until, with the score tied at 24, Tornado sophomore middle Amy Christy came through with a kill and Eagle Point followed with a ballhandling error to finish it out.

In Game 3, North Medford led 24-19 only to watch the Eagles storm back and tie it.

We let the pressure get to us a little bit, Beick admitted. It looked like we were going to a fourth game.

But with the score tied at 24, North Medford freshman right side Susie Rench hit a tip shot for a kill and Casebier followed with her kill down the line for the match.

I thought it would be a struggle to keep our (playoff) streak going, but we won a couple of key matches on the road early in the season and took it from there, Beick said. I'm really proud of this group.

Junior middle Ashley Curtis led Eagle Point with 12 kills and six blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Lucas added seven kills and junior defensive specialist Amanda Grieve chipped in 13 digs.

We had our opportunities, but that's been the story of our season, said Eagle Point coach Brianna Groves, whose team slipped to 6-7 in the SOC.

ASHLAND 25-25-25, CRATER 21-10-20 ' At Central Point, Ashland remained unbeaten in the SOC behind Marla Morin's fine all-around game.

Morin notched 15 kills, seven digs, two aces and four blocks for the Grizzlies (22-4, 13-0 SOC).

Tessa Maurer added six kills, 11 digs and one ace, and setter Megan Beugli amassed 36 assists to go with five digs.

For Crater, Erin Kinney led the way with 11 of the team's 23 kills. She also had five digs and two blocks.

Justine Bettencourt had 16 digs and Audrey Hop 10 for the Comets (16-8, 9-4 SOC).

GRANTS PASS 25-25-25, KLAMATH UNION 15-15-9 ' At Grants Pass, Katie Tardieu recorded 16 kills and three service aces for Grants Pass.

Shanna Claflian provided the Cavers with seven kills, while Rachelle Jessup had nine digs.

Grants Pass improved to 3-12 in SOC action.

ROSEBURG 25-25-25, SOUTH MEDFORD 14-16-20 ' At Roseburg, Roseburg dominated at the net for the SOC win.

Roseburg (17-10, 9-4 SOC) got 10 kills each from Katie Fuller and Kristen Bitter. The two combined for 12 blocks for points.

South Medford's Brittney Hunt was 10-of-12 passing and added three digs.

Jen Mendenhall, Jenny Brennan and Christine Meyerding each had four kills for the Panthers, and Meyerding had six digs.

Mendenhall, Brennan and Stephanie Anderberg each had two blocks. Rachel Bailey added three digs.