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Skyhawks battle to verge of 6A tournament

The Skyhawks excel on two tough road trips before falling at Medford

Road-tested and tough.

That, as well as anything describes the 2011 Southridge volleyball team.

The Skyhawks finished just fifth in the Metro League race, losing four of their final five league matches before heading into the postseason.

But there, freed of the shackles of the powerful Metro League, the Skyhawks took off.

First, they swept past Oregon City in their Class 6A Play-In match. Then, they outlasted North Medford - the Southern Oregon Conference runner-up and 13th-ranked team in the state - in a five-game epic on Nov. 2 at North Medford High School.

And finally, Southridge gave No. 4 Roseburg - the Southern champ - a run for its money before finally falling short in four games on Saturday at Roseburg.

'I'm so proud of this team and what they accomplished in the postseason after ending up fifth in the Metro League and being the only team in the final 16 with a losing record,' said Southridge coach Brooke Mayo. 'It goes to show how tough our league is and the benefits of the Play-In and ranking system. It's been a terrific season for these ladies.'

Southridge, which finished its year at 10-17, made the first of its two long playoff road trips a winner, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to the Black Tornado to win 25-18, 17-25, 25-27, 25-16, 15-5.

Nicole Rigoni led the way in that one with 17 kills, 17 digs and 31 assists, while Gloria Valusek added 14 kills, Madi Lynn led with 27 digs, and Kelli Derrah had a team-best 2.36 serve-receive average.

'My girls played well and fought back after losing the third' game, Mayo said. 'We started off the fifth game with a high level of energy which helped us finish strong.'

On its next long road trip, the Skyhawks tried to duplicate that success, but fell just short, losing three tough games to the Indians 25-21, 32-30, 25-21.

Rigoni and Valusek led the team with 11 kills each against Roseburg, while Derrah totaled 17 digs and three aces.

'We were evenly matched with Roseburg (and) my girls played well in all areas,' Mayo said. 'Roseburg is a tough team who played a little better than we did and that's why they ended up with the win.'