Grizz volleyball team pulls out five-set thriller
PHOENIX - After three straight-set victories to start the season the Ashland High volleyball team got its first taste of adversity Tuesday in a nonleague match at Phoenix.
The host Pirates fought back from a two-set-to-none deficit to force a fifth and deciding set, but thanks in part to two clutch kills by junior middle blocker Ellie Case the Grizzlies rose to the occasion, pulling out a 25-23, 25-21, 11-25, 18-25, 15-9 victory.
“I was very proud of them for gathering themselves and coming back and finishing strong,” said Ashland coach Robin Akpan, whose team improved to 4-0 overall. “We focused and really looked like an Ashland volleyball team instead of being scattered out there. There was a lot of composure in the fifth set.
I was really happy to see that maturity and composure come through in that last set.”
Grace Lenthe led the Grizzlies with 13 kills, Jordan Tilley added 30 assists and four aces and Myla Norvell contributed a team-high 18 digs. Case added seven kills and four blocks, and Olivia Rooney nine kills and eight digs.
For Phoenix, Adriana Mereida-Ford had 17 kills, Sydney Amundsen 16 and Karlie Richardson dished out 42 assists.
The Grizzlies were in complete control after taking the first two sets but struggled to control the ball over the next two sets, allowing Phoenix to crawl back into the match.
With their backs against the wall in the fifth, the Grizzlies recalibrated their passing and regained control. Back-to-back kills by Case allowed Ashland to gain some much-needed separation, Akpan said.
“They realized that it was time to start playing and at that point it was for the match,” Akpan said.
Ashland next hits the road again for two Midwestern League matches Friday against North Eugene and Marist.
The Ashland girls team downed Medford, 17-2, and the Grizzly boys beat Medford, 15-4, in the season-opening matches Tuesday at Southern Oregon University.
For the Ashland girls, Kelsey Gida recorded four goals and Sabrina Scoggin and Amelia Zeve each had three goals.
For the Grizzly boys, Tristan Gavin led the way with six goals while drawing four kickouts and winning all four sprints he was involved in.
Erik Oline and Finn Griffin both had four goals and goalkeeper Vincent Wright recorded 15 blocks.
Ashland freshman Daric Lucero broke up a scoreless tie in the 63rd minute before Henley rallied with two late goals to beat Ashland 2-1 in nonleague action Tuesday at North Mountain Park.
On Lucero’s goal, the ball twice bounced off the post before rolling in.
The Hornets tied things up with nine minutes left and then capitalized on an indirect kick with only a minute to go in regulation.
Goalkeeper Tejas Leie Heyden made several tough saves and defenders David and Gabe Lehrburger performed exceptionally for the Grizzlies (0-2).
Dan Jones contributed to this report.