December 4, 2022
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PREP VB: Full-steam ahead for South Medford – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

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No. 6 seed Panthers steamroll Liberty to take a rare state playoff victory

As much as South Medford’s volleyball team likely could’ve done without Katie Clevenger in its opening round game of the Class 6A volleyball state playoffs, it sure is nice that the Panthers have her to call upon.

Clevenger, a senior outside hitter, continued to spark sixth-seeded South Medford on Wednesday, providing 22 kills to help power past 27th-seeded Liberty and into Saturday’s second round with a 25-11, 25-10, 25-13 triumph.

Clevenger also finished with seven aces, two blocks and five digs for the Panthers (22-6), who finished runner-up in the Southwest Conference and will next play host to No. 11 Central Catholic. The Rams beat No. 22 West Salem 25-12, 25-10, 25-16 on Wednesday.

“She had a great game tonight, from her serve-receive passing, which she’s been dialing in during practice, to some huge swings she had tonight as well,” said South Medford head coach Robin Akpan.

Regardless of the hitting scenario, Clevenger rarely was denied against Liberty, which tied for fourth in the Pacific Conference and completed its season 9-10 overall.

“She had quite a few different swings tonight,” Akpan said. “Off the block, into the block, through the block, over the block … it was fun. And I feel like Baylee Davis, our setter, had a good showing tonight in locating the right spots to set for Katie and all of our other hitters as well.”

Davis totaled 41 assists and four aces, while Lola Horton had seven kills and one block, Brooke Johnston added five kills and Naomi Johnson contributed four kills and one ace.

Wednesday’s match was the first state playoff contest hosted by South Medford, as well as the first playoff victory in research dating as far back as the 2005 season.

“I don’t know when South had a home playoff match before and I don’t know when South has won a first-round playoff game before,” Akpan said, “so this was a big night for us. If it’s been a long time or this has been a first, either way this is a big deal for South Medford. It’s really exciting that this team is getting to be the ones that are setting those records and getting to experience the success.”

Taking the next step, though, won’t be easy given Central Catholic’s track record.

As No. 4 seed last year, Central Catholic swept South Medford in the first round, 25-14, 25-13, 25-16, and eventually placed fourth. Interestingly, Central Catholic was also the Panthers’ first-round foe in its previous trip to the state playoffs in 2013 and won in straight sets.

“It’s a little serendipitous we get to play them,” Akpan said. “We’re really excited. We’re hoping to take the next step toward the state championships but we’ve got our work cut out for us on Saturday.”

South Medford jumped out to steady leads in each set against Liberty to eliminate much of the drama.

A pair of service aces by Cameron Christian and four kills by Clevenger put the first set out of distance, with two straight aces by Clevenger clinching the set.

Johnston had a kill and Mayen Akpan supplied a stuff block to keep a double-digit advantage in the second set for South, which saw Davis record an ace before a clever tip by Clevenger for a kill was followed by a powerful effort to clinch set No. 2.

To claim the third set, Clevenger clinched the victory with a spike that bowled over a Liberty player trying to bend down for a dig.

OREGON CITY 3, NORTH MEDFORD 1: At Oregon City, 29th-seeded North Medford was able to force a fourth set but saw its season come to an end to No. 4 seed Oregon City in a 25-11, 25-13, 23-25, 25-12 first-round setback in the Class 6A state playoffs.

North senior AJ Brooks finished with seven kills and three blocks, while sophomore Paije Carpenter added five kills and senior Maddie Blake recorded 12 assists.

Raegan Boice added a pair of aces for North, which ended its season with an 8-14 record.

The Pioneers, who won the Three Rivers League this season, improved to 23-3.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, NYSSA 0: Cascade Christian junior Madison Todd recorded 17 kills to lead the No. 13-seeded Challengers to a straight-set win over Nyssa, 25-12, 25-16, 25-15, in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.

Junior Claire Knips had nine kills and sophomore Poppy Freeman added seven kills for Cascade Christian (17-9). Molly Griffin, a junior, recorded 32 assists, while senior Ellie Harrington had 11 digs and four aces and junior Sydney Shipman finished with six aces.

Cascade Christian will face fourth-seeded Horizon Christian (19-4) in Tualatin in the second round on Saturday.

ROGUE VALLEY ADVENTIST 3, JORDAN VALLEY 0: Senior Emma Bischoff led the way with 17 kills, four blocks, nine digs and six aces to power fifth-seeded Rogue Valley Adventist to a 25-16, 25-17, 25-16 win in the fist round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

Michaela Porter had nine kills, seven digs, two aces and a block, while fellow senior Destinee Quattrocelli chipped in four kills, 15 assists and nine digs for the Red Tail Hawks, who improved to 21-1 with their 15th straight victory.

RVA also got 15 assists, three digs and an ace from freshman Naomi Jackson.

The Hawks will host No. 21 seed Joseph — which upset 12th-seeded Trinity Lutheran on Wednesday — in the second round Saturday.

South Medford’s Katherine Clevenger makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Mayenabasi Akpan goes up for a block against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Mayenabasi Akpan goes up for a kill against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Mayenabasi Akpan and Lola Horton go up for a block against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Baylee Davis sets the ball for a kill against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Naomi Johnson pushes the ball over the net for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Mayenabasi Akpan and Brooke Johnston go up for a block against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Katherine Clevenger makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Lola Horton makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Katherine Clevenger makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Naomi Johnson makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

South Medford’s Katherine Clevenger makes a hit for a point against Liberty Wednesday in Medford. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]





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