Raiders continue mastery of Owls

ASHLAND — The second half of Cascade Conference play started much like the first half ended for the Southern Oregon University volleyball team.

Four Raiders reached double digits in kills and SOU kept its rivalry with Oregon Tech one-sided in a 25-20, 25-18, 21-25, 25-12 victory Friday night at Bob Riehm Arena.

Freshman middle Emma Gasman led another balanced attack with 17 kills for the Raiders (10-7 overall, 7-3 CCC), who also got 16 kills from Mona Goudarzian, 11 from Paulla Pinheiro and 10 from Liz Madden.

SOU attacked at a .218 average to OIT's .124 to hit more efficiently than its opponent for a fourth straight match behind freshman Lauren McGowne's 52 assists.

Pinheiro and Goudarzian also chipped in 15 and 12 digs, respectively, and Renee Yomtob had a match-high 19.

The Raiders, winners of three in a row and five of six overall, are 31-1 against the Owls (11-13, 4-6) dating back to 2002. Marlee Smith led OIT with 12 kills and Kelsey Sampson had 11.

Due to a third-set lapse, the Raiders may have had to work a little harder than they anticipated this time around after sweeping OIT in Klamath Falls earlier this season. But they recovered in the fourth with 14 kills on 26 swings, including six by Gasman.

"I think Emma, once we got into system, was as dominant as she's been and (McGowne) played another fantastic match," SOU coach Josh Rohlfing said. "There were lots of great things and I feel like, even when we're a little lethargic in moments, we're able to pull ourselves out now."

Rohlfing was also pleased with SOU's service game, which produced a season-high 11 aces, led by Brookelynn Cole's four and Tyana Andrews' three.

SOU flipped an 8-4 deficit in the first set with a 9-1 run to take a lead it never gave back. McGowne distributed 19 assists in the frame, marking a season-best effort.

Pinheiro served the Raiders to eight unanswered points in the second to open up a 19-10 lead.

Pinheiro, a junior outside hitter, has posted double-digit kills totals in five straight matches and double-digit digs in six of seven.

"I thought Paulla started slow and got better and better as the match progressed," Rohlfing said. "She's so explosive out there that people have to pay attention, and when she gets going it opens up our middles."

SOU took sole ownership of fourth place thanks to Northwest Christian's loss to 21st-ranked Concordia. Northwest Christian will be in town when the Raiders are next in action at 7 p.m. next Friday.

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