ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University volleyball team will venture up to Washington this weekend for a pair of Cascade Collegiate Conference, visiting Northwest in Kirkland on Friday at 7 p.m. and facing Evergreen in Olympia on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Southern Oregon, 8-7 overall this season and 4-1 in conference play, enters the weekend tied for second in the conference standings. The Raiders won their first four CCC matches, including a five-set win over Eastern Oregon last Friday, before falling at home to No. 15 College of Idaho on Saturday. Head coach Josh Rohlfing believes the experiences from last weekend will help the team improve as it moves forward.
"You know, there were some great things to take away from last weekend, and we feel good about what we're becoming," Rohlfing said. "We still have a ways to go, and this little bit of a youth movement that we have is just going to take some time. I'm really impressed with our older girls and excited for what the future holds."
This weekend the Raiders will face a pair of teams that they have historically dominated. Southern Oregon is 33-1 all-time against Northwest and 21-1 against Evergreen and owns active 17-match win streaks against both teams.
Friday's match against Northwest should present a challenge for SOU, as the Eagles lead the conference in service aces (2.15 per set) and rank second in blocks (2.07). Northwest is 9-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play, with Sarah Stoker leading the CCC with an average of 1.34 blocks per set. Last season, the Eagles won the opening set in both matches against SOU before the Raiders took the next three for a pair of four-set victories.
Evergreen will be looking for its first win of the season on Saturday, along with its first win against SOU since a thrilling five-set victory in 2003. The Geoducks are 0-14 overall this season and rank at the bottom of the conference rankings in nearly every team statistical category.
The Raiders rank third in the conference in blocks (2.06 per set), and Nikki Keller and Haley Kasler have stepped up to lead the Raiders in attack percentage. Keller leads the team in blocks (1.09), while Kasler has posted double-digit kill totals in six of the Raiders' last seven matches and averaged 3.5 kills per set during that stretch.
"This weekend is going to be a tough road trip, and we've got to put on the best show we can possibly put on and continue to improve and stick to the process," Rohlfing said."