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The dominance continues

North makes it 17 years and counting as it streaks past the Panthers

Someday, South Medford will beat North Medford in a Southern Oregon Conference volleyball match.

Until then, the fact that the Panthers never have will continue to weigh heavy on both sides of the net every time the two tangle.

The burden of the streak may not be fair to the new players who flow through each program every couple years, but 17 years of history is hard to ignore.

— Make that 17 and counting.

North beat South in three straight games in the latest SOC meeting between the cross-town rivals Thursday night inside a boisterous North gym.

Capping a 3-0 roll through the first week of conference play, the ninth-ranked Black Tornado (5-0 overall) trailed in a game only three times ' at 1-0, 4-3 and 5-4 of Game — ' to post a 25-15, 25-12, 25-17 victory over South.

We're playing awesome, said outside hitter Laura Tarkon, one of four North seniors. We worked so hard throughout the preseason. ... We're working really good as a team.

The Tornado, which is seeking its first conference crown since 2000, fed off the energy of what head coach Ron Beick called the best crowd I've seen in 10 years here.

A barrage of chest-painted North football players led the home side's cheers, although the Panthers (1-3, 1-2 SOC) weren't lacking in vociferous supporters of their own.

I don't think I've ever seen that many people in our gym, besides at assemblies, said Tornado senior middle Stephanie Jensen. They really pumped us up, and it was a lot of fun.

After North tore off a 6-0 run following a 5-all tie in the opening game, the match stayed squarely in the Tornado's command.

South did, however, close within 15-13 in Game — before sophomore outside hitter Jessica Walters' three kills helped mount a 12-2 charge for a 1-0 North edge.

Game 2 was never much in doubt, as the Tornado opened a 7-1 cushion and extended to a bulge as large as 23-9.

We kinda got timid in Game 2, said Adam Wagman, the Panthers' first-year head coach.

North rode the serving of senior outside hitter Jenna Siebenlist to a 5-0 edge early in the third game before South rallied to forge ties of 9- and 10-all.

A trio of consecutive hitting errors by the Panthers put the Tornado back on top, and North didn't allow South closer than 15-13 the rest of the way.

There's a certain intangible that we're missing right now, said Wagman, whose Panthers began the week with a four-game home victory over Crater before falling to SOC heavyweights Ashland on Tuesday and North on Thursday. The teams that are used to winning have a second gear that they shift into, and we haven't found our next gear, yet.

Sophomore Emily Marshall's six kills and seven digs apiece from senior Christine Meyerding and sophomore Marissa Towry paced South.

The Tornado, meanwhile, was balanced, with four players slamming three or more kills and five hustling for five or more digs.

Junior setter Allanah Munson turned in a fine all-around performance with 15 assists, six aces and six digs.

Walters spiked a match-high eight kills, and North committed just one error on 30 passes.

This was one of our most consistent matches, said Beick, who started his 10th season with a bang by directing the Tornado to SOC victories over Ashland, Crater and South this week. It's early in the season, but we really didn't have a lot of ups and downs.

As a result, North extends its league winning streak over South into Year 18, dating to when the schools split in 1986.

From a coaching point of view, we continually try to downplay it, said Beick, whose North squads have won four SOC titles during his tenure. It's a brand-new group of girls, and they don't have any ownership over it. We say not to worry about it, because this year is what it should really be about.

With help from Tornado teammate Laura Tarkon (3), North Medford?s Brittany Lawson (6) goes up for a block against South Medford?s Stephanie Anderberg (9) during Thursday?s match.