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Rohlfing announces six additions to SOU

ASHLAND — A touch over two months before the Southern Oregon University volleyball team will begin defense of its Cascade Conference title, head coach Josh Rohlfing has announced the signings of five incoming freshmen to letters of intent and the addition of one transfer.

Four Oregonians — setter Hannah Bogatin of Corvallis High, outside hitter Emily Eckart of Willamette High, outside Nila Lukens of Sisters High and Taylor Ristvedt of Cleveland High — are set to join the Raiders along with setter Hannah Absalonson of Mead High in Washington state. Rohlfing also brought in middle Courtney Macklin, who enrolled at SOU in the winter after competing at American River College (Calif.) in the fall.

SOU went 24-7 in 2014, shared the CCC regular-season championship with Eastern Oregon and ended up 13th in the NAIA rankings after an appearance at the national tournament. But, with the loss of six seniors, the Raiders needed to reload.

"This class is exceptionally talented," said Rohlfing, who is set to begin his ninth season at SOU. "All of these student-athletes are exemplary in the classroom. They're very experienced with club ball and all of them come from winning traditions. We cannot wait to see their potential come to fruition."

In the setting department, the 5-foot-6 Absalonson played for College Preparatory Academy Volleyball Club and the 5-9 Bogatin for Northwest Pacific Juniors Volleyball Club. At Corvallis, Bogatin was the Mid-Willamette Conference Player of the Year, as well as a first-team OSAA Class 5A All-State selection. Absalonson was an All-Greater Spokane League performer and led the circuit in service aces.

"We filled our needs at the setter position with quality," Rohlfing said. "Both will come in and compete for playing time right away. (Bogatin) has great set location and can turn on the ball as an attacker due to being a left-handed setter. (Absalonson) is a very competitive setter with great location and an exceptionally strong leader with great court awareness."

SOU ranked second in the NAIA in blocking last season, and Rohlfing believes bringing the 6-2 Ristvedt into the fold will help continue that trend. A member of the Oregon Juniors Volleyball Club, Ristvedt garnered first-team All-State and Portland Interscholastic League MVP accolades at Cleveland, and was a Scholar Athlete.

"Taylor is one of the top blockers we've seen over the past two seasons of recruiting," Rohlfing said. "She is going to be a perfect fit; she's very long and strong."

Lukens, a member of the Rimrock Volleyball Club, was the OSAA Class 4A Player of the Year at Sisters and a unanimous pick for the All-State Tournament team after winning the state title. At 5-8, Rohlfing considers her the most explosive player of the class. She's also been the Honors English Student of the Year, AP History Student of the Year and a member of the student government at Sisters.

"To say Nila is a dynamic athlete might be an understatement," Rohlfing said. "She is an exceptionally quick and explosive athlete and also has very good skills. She fits our style of play perfectly."

The 5-11 Eckart has the skills to play outside, middle or defensive specialist for SOU, Rohlfing says. She was twice an All-Southwest Conference selection and a Scholar Athlete, and gained experience playing for the Webfoot Volleyball Club.

"Emily has a winning pedigree that you have to recruit to obtain in a program," Rohlfing said. "She's going to be a great leader for us over the years."

Macklin, a 6-0 middle, prepped at El Dorado High in Placerville, Calif., before first attending Concordia University-Irvine. She was named all-league twice at El Dorado, and in 2014 helped ARC win a Nor Cal championship as an all-league selection.