The Class 6A North Medford volleyball team needed every last point to edge 5A Ashland during a thrilling five-set nonleague battle at Mountain Avenue Gym on Tuesday.
The Black Tornado prevailed, 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 28-26, 15-13.
"It was tight," a relieved North head coach Erika Wright said. "It was tight."
Recap: Ashland won the second and third sets and nearly took the fourth before Class 6A North Medford rallied for a five-set, nonconference win at Mountain Avenue Gym.
Leaders: Setter Jordan Tilley led the way for the Grizzlies, recording 36 assists, 22 digs and six aces. Hope Baldrica added four blocks and eight kills and Myla Norvell contributed 22 digs.
North senior middle hitter Elle Bixler helped to lead the charge with 16 kills, while sophomore outside Emily Carter contributed 14 kills and 13 digs.
Freshman outside Ashley Ripplinger chipped in seven kills, five aces and 10 digs and setter Taylor Otoski went for 15 digs, 43 assists and three aces.
Katy Carter led North (9-5) in digs with 20.
The Black Tornado needed to rally after losing the second and third sets. Game 4 was back and forth.
"We took a lead on them in the beginning and then they climbed back in, and after that it was point for point the rest of the way," Wright said. "At the end of the third set I felt like we had some momentum going into the fourth set, and that helped us get that lead. But then they climbed back in and then we went point for point all the way through until we got them, 28-26."
Then came the decisive fifth, when the Grizzlies jumped out to a four-point lead before North responded. Emily Carter registered several successful serves and Ripplinger knocked over some key kills late to seal it.
For the Grizzlies (6-9), Jordan Tilley turned in six aces, 22 digs and 36 assists and Hope Baldrica four blocks and eight kills.
Grace Lenthe had seven kills and two blocks and Myla Norvell 22 digs.
Ashland's Grace Geisslinger (libero) and Carly Walker (middle back) contributed strong efforts.
"The whole match was just hard fought on both sides," Ashland head coach Robin Akpan said. "I am really proud of the way my girls played tonight. North Medford was great competition."
The Southern Oregon University women's soccer team stayed true to form in its first week of Cascade Conference play, which is to say that it's still hard to say what form it will take from day to day.
That hasn't necessarily been a bad thing for the Raiders (5-2-3 overall, 1-0-1 CCC), who will pack up a five-match unbeaten streak for a trip that takes them Thursday to Eastern Oregon (5-1-1, 1-1-0) and Saturday to College of Idaho (3-6-0, 1-1-0).
All it took were five favorably chaotic minutes to transform the first week from miserable to exhilaratingly satisfactory. The same team that couldn't score in 110 minutes during Thursday's draw against Northwest Christian did it three times in less than five minutes in a 5-3 comeback win against Corban.
That kind of unpredictability has applied not only to when the Raiders are going to get their production, but from whom. Five different Raiders scored in the win — including four who hadn't scored previously, giving them 12 goal-scoring players on the season to lead the CCC.
"Watching the forward line at practices, it's a skilled group and it's nice to have so many people who can make something happen," SOU interim head coach Jenni Rosenberg said. "We still need to improve our organization on the field but we're giving ourselves a lot of opportunities."
That was the case even when the Raiders were shut out against a defensive-minded Northwest Christian, out-shooting the Beacons 24-4. But they have been blanked four times.