Grizzlies spike Vikings in SSC romp

Callie McCoy is liking this whole Ashland volleyball thing.

It's working out pretty good for the Grizzlies, too.

The transfer from South Medford led everyone with 19 assists and Niki Small had 11 kills and four aces as third-ranked Ashland High extended its conference winning streak past the five-year mark with a 25-7, 25-10, 25-15 victory over Mazama, Thursday at Ashland Middle School.

The Grizzlies scored 11 of the first 13 points and trailed only once in the lopsided Southern Sky Conference victory, Ashland's 47th consecutive league win. Ashland (6-5, 3-0 SSC) hasn't suffered a conference setback since Oct. 7, 2004.

"It's something that motivates the girls, not losing a conference match or a conference game," Ashland coach Jodee Scott said. "It's a goal that they set for themselves at the beginning of the season and they go after it. You can tell no matter who's on the other side of the court that they're trying to play aggressively and show them what Ashland volleyball looks like."

It looked pretty good Thursday.

Sophomore libero Piper Cantrell led the Grizzlies with 16 digs, while junior Samantha Boehnke and senior Hayley Ross smashed five kills apiece. Senior Monica Palmesano added four aces for the Grizzlies, who host the Grizzly Tournament on Saturday.

Mazama fell to 7-10 overall, 1-3 in the SSC.

McCoy, a 5-foot-8 senior, played club ball with some of her new teammates prior to transferring to AHS over the summer, but had only weeks of preseason training to develop chemistry with the team as a whole. The transition has been a smooth one, both on the court and off.

"It's been absolutely awesome," McCoy said. "Every girl has been so welcoming and warm, and just the community of Ashland has just been amazing. They've been so welcoming, and so open to the fact that I transferred here "¦ so it hasn't been too hard of a transition for me."

McCoy looked like she's played for Ashland all her life Thursday, organizing the offense and setting up mostly uncontested smashes against the much shorter Mazama front line. The result was a one-sided affair, with Small, Ross, Boehnke and Hannah Stocking taking turns pounding the Vikings into submission.

Three straight aces by Small gave the Grizzlies a 10-2 lead in the first game, and a spike by Teague Teece moments later ignited a 6-0 run that gave the Grizzlies a 18-5 cushion.

The Grizzlies took control early in the second game, too, scoring six straight points, capped by a Boehnke-Stocking tandem block, to go up 12-4. The Vikings crept to within 14-7 before Ashland reeled off another big run, winning 11 of the next 14 points to take the game.

Game 3 was the most competitive of the match. Mazama tied the score at 4-4 on a kill by Victoria Rivera, the Vikings' top hitter, and was still within striking distance at 9-7 before the Grizzlies took off. Ashland used a 9-2 run, highlighted by three Small spikes, to go up 18-9, went ahead 21-11 on a kill by Ross, then used backup players to finish off the Vikings.

"I felt like they stayed focused most of the way through," Scott said. "It's hard when you're really far ahead to stay focused, but I think they did a really good job of taking our pace and our momentum and still taking it to (Mazama)."

That's important, since Ashland is rarely challenged by SSC opponents.

"We need to work on keeping our energy up," McCoy said, "and, no matter who we're playing, always playing consistent, hard volleyball."

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