A year from now, Nikki Small will be bouncing above the net at Northern Arizona University.
MEDFORD — A year from now, Nikki Small will be bouncing above the net at Northern Arizona University.
But the senior's all-around performance on Tuesday night had North Medford wishing along with the rest of the state that she'd just get out of town already.
Small led the Ashland volleyball team to a 25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 25-8 romp over their 6A opponent as the third-ranked Grizzlies evened their nonconference record at 2-2.
"She's a force," Ashland coach Jodee Scott said of Small. "She's a great hitter, and when she connects with the setters like she did tonight, the defense doesn't have a very good chance."
Small, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker, notched a match-high 19 kills to complement six aces and four blocks, and made sure the Grizzlies put away North Medford (2-1) with seven kills in the fourth game after dropping the previous frame.
"We didn't bring as much energy as we'd hoped," Small said, "but we found a rhythm and that was enough to get the job done."
In fact, it was more than enough to get the job done.
Ashland set a dominant tone by getting off to a 13-3 start in Game 1, while the Tornado obliged and committed four unforced errors on the last five Grizzly scores.
Senior outside hitter Hannah Stocking's five kills and two aces gave the Grizzlies a lift in game two, which she capped with an untouched slam after hooking up with setter Callie McCoy.
McCoy shared time with setter Drew Van Vleck but had a match-high 24 assists in three games of work for Ashland, and Stocking tallied 17 digs, 10 service aces and eight kills in a do-it-all showing.
"We have good hitters all the way around, so blockers really have to make a choice against us," Scott said. "Our setters did a good job tonight of putting the hitters in a position to attack, and that really makes it fun to hit."
After the Grizzlies blew a 20-18 lead in game four, Small took the air out of the gym and any momentum the Tornado had built with four quick big-time kills while the Grizzlies raced out to an 11-2 lead.
North Medford got the next point, but never got any closer, as Stocking and Small combined for seven more kills and Small finished the Tornado before they could scratch out a double-digit point total with two aces to seal the match.
Piper Cantrell, a sophomore libero, paced both squads with 19 digs.
The Grizzlies will open up Southern Sky play next Tuesday with a road tilt against Klamath Union.
"At this point in the season we're about where we want to be," Scott said. "We have to fine-tune some things and execute a little better so we're able to be more aggressive, but we're in pretty good shape."
After a scoreless first half, Phoenix broke the game open in the second half at U.S. Cellular Community Park en route to a 5-0 nonconference victory over Ashland.
Junior forward Jalisco Macias had three assists for the Class 4A second-ranked Pirates (6-0)
Chris Solis scored the first of two goals in the 49th minute, then Omar Iboa tallied two minutes later. Macias assisted on both goals.
Solis scored again on an assist from the sophomore midfielder Iboa about 20 minutes into the second half.
Daniel Katyama and Jonathon Hernandez completed the scoring, with assists going to Luis Rocha and Macias.
Carlos Mena made five saves in net for the Pirates.