Former Ashland High setter Lindsey Stone, right, sets the ball while Rachel Verdoom, left, and Sara Acosta defend during the 2005 OSAA Class 4A state tournament in Portland. Stone has transferred to Southern Oregon University. - Craig Mitchelldyer

Happy homecoming

ASHLAND — One of the most accomplished players in Ashland High volleyball history has returned to the site of her former glory — well, almost.

Lindsey Stone, a former state player of the year who helped the Grizzlies capture their first and only Oregon School Activities Association big-school state championship in 2005, has transferred to Southern Oregon University after a year at the University of Oregon. The sophomore setter, who forfeited an athletic scholarship at UO, makes her Raider debut Friday, when SOU opens its season at the Fresno Pacific Invitational.

Stone contributed 140 assists in 18 matches for the Ducks as a freshman and probably would have shared time with another sophomore, Nevena Djordjevic, this year. But Division I volleyball proved to be "like a 24-hour job," which wasn't what the nursing major had in mind when she signed her letter of intent.

Two days after spring break, Stone decided that she was done with volleyball at UO, and a month after that she decided to transfer to SOU, which competes at the NAIA level.

Since recruiting season was over by the time Stone decided to join, one of the biggest pick-ups in Southern Oregon history made the team as a walk-on.

"I couldn't play half-heartedly at U of O," Stone said. "I knew that I really wanted to do nursing, and I wanted to travel, and now I have the best of both worlds."

The move initially had more to do with logistics and family ties than it did with volleyball — SOU happens to be one of four outreach schools for the Oregon Health and Science University nursing program, one of the best such programs in the nation; it's also close to home and older sister Emily Stone, who's entering her junior year at SOU and is the Raiders' starting libero.

"We've been whacking the ball around with each other since we were little, so it has come full circle," Lindsey Stone said of rooming with her sister.

Lindsey eventually decided to play volleyball for SOU; her first practice with the team was July 15. The move also reunites Stone with her former Ashland High head coach, Josh Rohlfing, who was hired to take over the Raiders in March.

"That was a cherry on top, for sure," Stone said.

At Ashland, Stone worked her way into the regular rotation as a sophomore and was the full-time starter as a junior. As a senior, she was prolific, amassing 1,386 assists, 232 digs, 89 kills and 92 aces during a 35-match regular season. The Grizzlies won 34 of those matches including all 14 Southern Oregon Conference affairs, then went undefeated at the state tournament.

Now, Stone will try to help another Ashland team get over the top. The Raiders qualified for the NAIA national championships four years in a row between 2001 and 2004, but never advanced past pool play in that span and haven't been back since.

"I think the best way to go into a situation is with no expectations, so you can always be pleasantly surprised at the outcome," Stone said. "Thus far, it's just a really neat group of people. It's going to be a positive year no matter what."

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456, ext. 224, or

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