Southridge shows up, shuts out Pioneers, wins a playoff berth
by: Miles Vance G-L-O-R-I-A — Southridge’s Gloria Valusek connects for a kill against Oregon City on Saturday.

BEAVERTON - There were challenges aplenty for the Southridge volleyball team during the 2011 Metro League season.

But the Skyhawks shook off the disappointment of their 2-8 fifth-place Metro League finish on Saturday night, and did so in impressive fashion, routing Oregon City 25-10, 25-15, 25-23 in the Class 6A Play-In game at Southridge High School.

The win lifted Southridge's overall record to 9-15 and sent the Skyhawks on to face North Medford (14-7), the second-place finisher from the Southern Oregon Conference, in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs last night (Wednesday) after the Valley Times' press deadline. Oregon City, the fifth-place team from the Three Rivers League, saw its season end at 8-14.

'I thought we all worked together super well,' said Southridge sophomore setter Erin Stuhldreher. 'We all got pumped and we came together. We wanted to be in the playoffs.'

'The season's been tough. I'm not going to lie,' said Southridge senior outside hitter Gloria Valusek. 'We didn't know how good Oregon City was so went just went out and tried to win.'

'I'm really proud of how they came out,' added Southridge coach Brooke Mayo. 'Losing some of those close ones in league can be discouraging so I was proud of how they were able to come out tonight and wipe the slate clean and attack.'

And attack the Hawks did, especially in game one, taking a 10-point lead at 16-6 on a Kelli Derrah ace, boosting that margin to 22-7 on a Nicole Rigoni ace, then closing out game one on another ace, this last one from Alexa Basauri.

The Pioneers hung around longer in game two, still within 14-10 following a Southridge hitting error with Teagan Driver at the service line.

But Stuhldreher won a sideout with a tip, and Basauri served her team through a three-point run (including two aces) to make it 18-10. The lead was still 22-13 two rotations later, and the Skyhawks closed out their win with an OC error, a Madi Lynn ace and a Rigoni crosscourt kill for 25-15.

The Pioneers were even better and pushed the Skyhawks even longer in the night's final game, leading 14-13 on a Raechel Schimpf ace before Southridge finally asserted control.

From there, the Skyhawks outscored OC 12-9 to close out the match, with Valusek notching three kills in eight points and Rigoni adding two more down the stretch.

'I think our defense was really on tonight and our hitters were just taking care of it,' Stuhldreher said. 'We all just worked together and went out like we had nothing to lose. Tonight was our night.'

'We went out like we didn't have anything to lose,' Valusek said. 'It's my last time playing volleyball so I just needed to push through and I'm glad I did.'

'We talked about not hesitating and that's what they did - there was a body on the floor on defense every single time and that's what made us tonight,' Mayo added.

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