Two of the top teams in their respective classifications met in a non-league volleyball match to tune up for the playoffs.
Top-ranked Southridge made the short drive up Murray Road to take on Valley Catholic, the number-two ranked team in 4A and swept three games from the Valiants, winning 25-18, 25-11, 25-19 Monday night.
It was the second meeting of the season between the two Beaverton powers, who faced off at Southridge’s gym during a tournament earlier this season, a match swept in two by the tall and talented Skyhawks.
Southridge’s imposing block, featuring a half dozen players six-feet tall and above, combined with stellar back row play and the all-around brilliance of 6A Player Of The Year frontrunner Chloe Brown proved to be too much to overcome for the game Valiants, who feature a trio of players who would start for most any 6A team.
The Valiants’ Lizzy Osborn, like Brown a highly skilled all-around talent, fought hard to keep the Valiants competitive. Although Southridge was never particularly threatened in any of the three sets, neither did the larger school leader walk over the smaller private school.
Southridge got out to a 22-12 lead in the first set before Valley Catholic stormed back to a respectable 25-18 margin. Set two was tied six times before Southridge pulled away behind four blocks, five kills from Brown and four from senior outside hitter Natalie Hoff. Senior Cara McClean served out the set with five consecutive points including an ace, with Hoff putting down the last kill.
Valley Catholic got off to a great start with back-to-back aces from Osborn to start the third set, but Southridge didn’t wait long to get going again. After a net shot and a side out, Brown put down back-to-back kills and 6-1 juniror Teddy Batinkova and 6-2 senior Danielle Christensen combined on a block of Valley Catholic’s Clara Robbins. After the teams traded the next three points, Batinkova toed the service line as the ‘Hawks rattled off seven straight to take a 13-4 lead.
The Valiants were hardly a beaten bunch, as they worked their way back within four twice, closing within 16-12 and then 22-18. But Southridge proved to be just too tough and came away with its 24th win in 25 tries. The Skyhawks only loss this season came to Central Catholic on Oct. 14 in the championship of the West Linn Tournament.
South Eugene advanced to the 6A state tournament as the #32 seed following a 3-1 win over Beaverton in a play-in game Saturday. The Lady Axes travel to Southridge to take on the #1 Skyhawks Wednesday night in the opening round of the tournament. The Valiants are off until Saturday when they host an opponent to be determined in the first round of the 4A state tournament.