CALDWELL, Idaho — Southern Oregon University volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing likes to talk about all the small steps his youthful team has taken toward fulfilling its potential.
Now he has a gigantic leap to discuss. And the College of Idaho Coyotes will have a new streak to start after the Raiders ended their old one Friday night, stealing a 26-24, 18-25, 25-22, 23-25, 17-15 decision to squash C of I's string of 73 straight Cascade Conference regular season wins inside the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.
The win was SOU's second on the Coyotes' home floor in the last eight seasons, the other being a conference tournament match in 2011. The Raiders were the last team to win a regular season match there, too, on Sept. 16, 2005.
Mona Goudarzian had 19 kills to lead the Raiders (7-6, 4-2 CCC). Paulla Pinheiro had 16 on 40 swings, the last of which produced a smash to break a 15-all tie in the fifth set before Sam Boehnke's serve skimmed the baseline for an ace that sealed the win.
The final set featured seven ties and was needed only because the Coyotes (7-6, 4-2) went on a 14-5 run to overcome a six-point deficit midway through the fourth.
The Coyotes (7-6, 4-2) — who have won at least a share of the last eight CCC regular season titles — had won four straight coming into the night. They got double-digit kills out of four hitters, led by Sofia Anxo's 16.
Southern Oregon's first five-set match of the season resulted in career nights for a couple of freshmen. For the fourth straight match, Lauren McGowne set new highs with 55 assists and 10 digs. Emma Gasman, making her second straight start at middle blocker, chipped in 14 kills with a team-best .417 attacking average and was in on four blocks.
Renee Yomtob gathered 26 digs to pace a steady Raider defense, which got big nights out of Goudarzian (15 digs), Brooklyn Cole (14) and Pinheiro (13). Yomtob, a senior libero, also had a rare kill, and it was a big one: dumped into the middle of the Coyote defense to put the Raiders up 14-13 in the fifth.
The Raiders ended the first set on a 12-4 run to erase C of I's 20-14 lead, but never trailed while taking the third.
Four of the last six matches between SOU and C of I have been pushed to a fifth set.
SOU will finish its trip Saturday at 11th-ranked and first-place Eastern Oregon, which swept Oregon Tech on Friday.