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Crusaders dig up SCL victory over Cascade Christian

Prep Volleyball

With the tallest front-line player standing 5-foot-8, St. Mary's volleyball team has been a work in progress on defense.

Add to that a switch from the familiar one-setter approach to a 6-2 formation, and the Crusaders have been learning on the fly.

St. Mary's earned a passing grade Tuesday with a 26-24, 25-18, 25-16 win over rival Cascade Christian in the Southern Cascade League opener for both teams at Superior Courts.

The Challengers (1-3, 0-1 SCL) held a 24-21 lead in Game — but couldn't close out the win. The final two contests weren't as close.

I've never seen us play worse, said Cascade Christian coach Susan Gmur, whose team committed three straight service errors in the final game and nine overall. St. Mary's served us tough, and we continually over-passed the ball.

— I think that was the best defensive game I've seen St. Mary's play.

The Crusaders (3-4, 1-0 SCL) benefited from a combined 33 digs from Caroline Keating and Kathryn Zielony, while setters Amanda Hall and Beth Becker turned in their best performance of the season.

We just had the complete package, said St. Mary's coach James Joy. The hitting was there when needed and the defense was there. It all came together.

Ya know, we're not real tall up front, so we don't get up much of a block. It forces us to do a good job of keeping the ball off the floor.

Zielony and Chrissy Seus each had 12 kills to lead the Crusaders.

Audrey Holmes was 20 of 20 from the service line with five aces, Natalie Dicus had nine kills and Kyleen Johnson had 13 assists for the Challengers.

Skyline Conference

MAZAMA 25-25-25, HIDDEN VALLEY 12-22-23 'At Klamath Falls, freshman middle Quenby Cox led Mazama to its first Skyline victory.

Quenby sparked the Vikings attack with seven kills and four blocks.

Defensive specialist Korina Petersen helped get the Mazama offense started with strong passing.

Kim Glidewell had a team-high three aces for Mazama, which only missed three serves in the match.

NORTH VALLEY 25-25-25, ROGUE RIVER 23-6-17 ' At Merlin, North Valley overcame a slow start to remain unbeaten.

The Knights (4-0, 3-0 Skyline) fell behind early in Game — before rallying.

Elaina Renius led the way with 12 kills and six blocks, while Whitney Makepeace added five kills. Carly Burns had 14 assists and tied teammate Chrislyn Seybold for the lead in service aces with four.

LAKEVIEW 25-25-25, ILLINOIS VALLEY 12-16-16 ' At Cave Junction, senior middle Caitlin Albertson had 11 kills, senior outside hitter Caitlin Albertson added eight kills and junior defensive specialist Liz Albertson went 22-for-22 at the service line as Lakeview cruised past Illinois Valley.

The fifth-ranked Honkers improved to 4-0 in the Skyline Conference and 9-1 overall.

Skyline A League

BUTTE FALLS 25-25-25, PROSPECT 12-16-8 ' At Prospect, Butte Falls (4-6, 2-0 Sky A) used 21 aces, 10 by senior setter Brianna Smeltz, to control the straight-set victory.

Smeltz added 21 assists.

Senior middle Cassie Bartel was efficient on the Loggers front line with eight kills in 11 swings and provided two blocks.

Butte Falls senior outside Asia Million had a team-high 11 kills, while sophomore Elysia Rodgers came up with three digs.