The South Medford volleyball team was at its best when the pressure was on and pulled out its Southwest Conference opener over Grants Pass on Thursday, 27-25, 25-20, 25-23, at South Medford High.
The Panthers won the last two points of the first set and cranked up their defensive intensity to pull out the third by the same margin.
“We just kept going, we did not relent,” South Medford coach Lindsey Wente said. “We had some amazing digs — we were digging stuff off our faces. ...So we really just all around as a team came together and played some amazing defense.”
Catherine Rostel led the Panthers (6-2) with 12 kills and four blocks, while Evelyn Laupola had four blocks.
Matlyn Leetch had 26 assists.
Laupola and Rostel were particularly clutch, Wente said, as Laupola had three of the Panthers’ five aces late in the first set, and Rostel was a beast in the middle.
“(Rostel) was on fire tonight,” Wente said. “She was dominant in the front row.”
The win was the fourth in a row for South Medford.
Grants Pass suffered its third straight loss to fall to 5-8.
SHELDON 3, NORTH MEDFORD 2: At Eugene, North Medford had the reigning Southwest Conference champs on the ropes in the opening set but Sheldon rallied for a 25-23, 25-19, 25-12 victory.
The Black Tornado (7-4, 0-1 SWC) were up 19-16 but the Irish (9-4, 1-0) began to find its rhythm and used the momentum the rest of the way.
Lauren Barry came up with nine kills and 19 digs for the Black Tornado, while setter Kyleigh Lopez collected 19 assists.
EAGLE POINT 3, ASHLAND 2: At Ashland, Emmalee Stevens served 13 straight points in the fifth set to help Eagle Point hold off Ashland in the Midwestern League seesaw battle, 25-19, 25-23, 16-25, 19-25, 15-5.
After capturing the first two sets, the Eagles (3-5, 2-4 MWL) allowed the Grizzlies (3-2, 3-2) to come back and force a fifth set.
Stevens, who had one ace during her run that put the Eagles up 13-0, amassed 54 digs while Alyson Scheffler posted 10 kills, five aces and 34 digs.
The Eagles’ Sara Angel came up with seven kills and nine digs, and Kierssa Hogan added six kills and 29 digs.
HENLEY 3, PHOENIX 2: At Klamath Falls, Sophia Tringolo stuffed the stat sheet with 12 assists, three blocks, three kills and two aces for the Pirates, whose fifth-set rally fell short in the Skyline Conference opener.
Henley won the match, 18-25, 20-25, 25-11, 25-21, 15-11.
The host Hornets led 8-2 in the fifth before Phoenix (2-6) rallied to get within 9-8, but Henley (5-3) recovered in time to earn its second straight win.
Makenna Page had seven kills and two digs and Josie Bolstad six kills and three blocks to lead the Pirates’ offense. Katelyn Hanson added five kills, two aces and a block.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, BROOKINGS-HARBOR 0: At Brookings, Caroline McMahon had 13 kills and Taylor Cave 19 assists and four aces as the Challengers swept their Far West League opener, 25-20, 25-16, 25-20.
Kaylee Cannon added three kills and three blocks and Olivia Borg five kills for Cascade Christian (5-1), which opened its season with four straight wins.
Brookings-Harbor (2-6) suffered its fourth straight loss.
SOUTH UMPQUA 3, ST. MARY’S 0: At Myrtle Creek, Katie Rietmann had six kills and six blocks to pace St. Mary’s, but South Umpqua cruised to a 25-16, 25-8, 25-14 Far West League-opening victory.
Natalie Thicket added four kills and Grace Johnson three, while Ashley Gurr had 15 assists for the Crusaders (3-7).
For South Umpqua (6-1), Shalyn Gray served the Landers to a key four-point rally in the first set that helped set the tone for the match.