ASHLAND — It's come down to the final week of the regular season for the Southern Oregon volleyball team.
The Raiders face their biggest road trip of the year this weekend against No. 15 College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The Cascade Collegiate Conference regular-season championship is on the line.
Southern Oregon, 18-8 overall and 14-2 in conference play, enters Friday's match tied with College of Idaho for first in the CCC standings. The Coyotes currently hold the tiebreaker for the rights to host the conference tournament after sweeping SOU in Ashland last month, but two wins this weekend would give the Raiders the outright title and the opportunity to host the tournament next weekend.
"It's going to be a very arduous task for us to go up there and get two wins," SOU head coach Josh Rohlfing said. "We're hoping to go up and put up two of our best matches this year and give us a chance to win those matches."
The Raiders rank among the top four teams in the conference in every team stat category. They lead the CCC in blocks during conference play (2.35 per set). Haley Kasler ranks seventh in the league in kills (3.13 per set) and 10th in attack percentage (.258), while Nikki Keller ranks first in blocks (1.28) and Renee Yomtob ranks third in digs (3.98).
Friday's matchup will give the Raiders a chance to avenge a three-set loss to the Coyotes last month. College of Idaho and Southern Oregon have finished as the top two teams in the conference in each of the last six years, and this year has continued that trend with the two teams holding a two-game lead over EOU atop the CCC standings.
CCC SEMIFINAL — A strong finish to the regular season clinched the third seed in the Cascade Collegiate Conference Tournament for the Southern Oregon soccer team, and the Raiders will travel to Portland for a 7 p.m. semifinal matchup with No. 6 Concordia on Saturday.
Southern Oregon finished the regular season with a 9-5-2 overall mark, 5-2-2 in conference play, while Concordia posted a 13-2-2 overall record, 7-2 in the CCC. A pair of late-season 1-0 losses ended Concordia's 12-year reign atop the Cascade Conference, as Northwest finished 7-1-1 to clinch the regular season crown.
The Raiders closed out the regular season with a 1-0 overtime win over College of Idaho and a 1-1 double-overtime tie against Eastern Oregon to earn a spot in the conference tournament for the third straight year. Julie Zamzow scored in the final minutes of regulation against EOU to force overtime in the eventual tie.
Southern Oregon finished the regular season on a 3-0-1 run in its final four matches, outscoring its opponents 8-2 during that stretch. Stephanie Carr led the team with 13 goals, while Julie Zamzow tallied five goals to rank second on the team. Sydney Paulsen and Stacy Hamer each added four scores.
Kelsey Clement and Katelyn Allen split time at goalkeeper for SOU, compiling a 1.17 goal against average with 42 saves.
CCC CHAMPIONSHIPS — The Southern Oregon cross country programs head into Saturday's Cascade Collegiate Conference Championship meet with conference title and national bid aspirations.
Southern Oregon's top-ranked men's team will run for its fifth consecutive conference crown in the 8K race at 11:15 a.m., following the women's 5K race at 10:30 a.m. at Portland's Lents Park.
The SOU men picked up 18 of 21 possible first-place votes to hold steady atop the NAIA poll, where they have stood since the preseason poll. Southern Oregon's 18 all-time first-place rankings ties for second-most all-time behind Malone's NAIA record of 38 first-place selections.
The four-time defending CCC champion Raiders will look to hold off No. 11 College of Idaho, No. 15 Eastern Oregon and No. 22 Northwest Christian among ranked teams. Oregon Tech and Concordia also lurk as possible threats, with both picking up votes in the latest poll. Southern Oregon returns three all-conference performers from 2011 with Brett Hornig, Eric Ghelfi and Matt Battaglia.