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North Medford nets title at Rogue Valley Classic

Playing with a little extra incentive, North Medford’s volleyball team captured the gold bracket championship at the Rogue Valley Classic in the Black Tornado gym Saturday.

After falling short against Ridgeview in last year’s final, and splitting with the Ravens in pool play, tournament host North Medford mustered up big scoring surges when needed in the championship final to score a 25-23, 19-25, 15-10 triumph.

“Overall I thought our kids showed a lot of heart all day long,” said Tornado head coach Malcolm Munson. “We were good in pool play and the bracket stuff was really fun. The kids played together with a lot of heart.”

Catherine Rostel had eight kills and five digs in the championship match and Lauren Barry contributed 10 kills and 15 digs to lead the Black Tornado. Jenna Sandstrom had three solo blocks and three aces, Hannah Drysdale added 10 assists and seven digs and Pa Oa Payne Kaeo finished with 10 assists.

North Medford advanced as the No. 2 seed out of its pool after beating Phoenix (25-13, 25-17) and splitting with McNary and Ridgeview.

In bracket play, the Tornado edged Mountain View 25-23, 26-24 in its opener behind 14 kills, 13 digs and five aces from Barry and eight kills from Sandstrom.

In the semifinals, North struggled early but caught fire late to dispatch Crook County 10-25, 25-5, 15-10 as Barry again had a big effort with 10 kills and 12 digs. Jordan Sandler added five digs and two aces and Drysdale had five assists and five aces.

Also in gold bracket action, South Medford advanced as the No. 2 seed out of its pool but could not get past Crook County in a two-set quarterfinal clash.

In silver bracket action, Ashland and Crater each were eliminated in the semifinals. Eventual champion McNary beat Crater 25-22, 20-25, 18-16 and runner-up Central topped Ashland 18-25, 25-22, 15-12. McNary beat Central 25-22, 25-14 in the finals.

Crater opened its bracket play with a win over Cascade Christian, 15-25, 27-25, 15-6, thanks to determined defense and passing from libero Kylie Anderson and setter Kate Stidham. Both also had solid showings against McNary, with outside hitters Tessa Frodge and Madison Kocina aggressive at the net.

CRUSADER CLASSIC: St. Mary’s went 2-2 in its seven-team round-robin tournament at St. Mary’s High, posting wins over La Pine and Douglas to offset losses to Etna and Yreka, which was the lone team to go undefeated in its four matches.

The Crusaders edged La Pine 25-20, 25-19 in its first match of the day, with senior Natalie Thickett posting 11 kills, 10 digs and three aces. Maddie Mills added 15 digs and Ashley Gurr contributed 20 assists. Grace Johnson had nine digs and five kills.

After Etna slipped past St. Mary’s 25-22, 25-20, the Crusaders rebounded with a 25-21, 25-12 win over Douglas that saw freshman Kelsey Dunn spark her team with four kills off nine attempts with two blocks.

In the final match, Yreka won 25-23, 25-15 despite six kills from Thickett and four by Ainsley Dunn.

Thickett finished with 30 kills in the four matches.