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SOU splits openers at Summer Slam

LA MIRADA, Calif. — Unforced errors were the difference in both of 18th-ranked Southern Oregon's 2016 volleyball openers Thursday, a sweep of No. 24 Northwestern (Iowa) and a four-set loss to Montana Tech at the Biola Summer Slam.

The Raiders had an encouraging morning session with their 25-20, 25-20, 25-15 defeat of Northwestern, led by senior middle Emma Gasman's eight kills on 14 attacks and five blocks. They also got some help as their opponents committed 15 service errors, which resulted SOU's unusual kill total of 29 — its lowest in a win since before the 2000 season.

SOU cornered Northwestern into an attacking average of .106 with eight blocks. Courtney Macklin contributed three of those to go with six kills, Nila Lukens tallied five kills, Lauren McGownehad 17 assists, seven digs and two blocks, and Kiley Barcroftwent for a career-high 13 digs.

The evening loss to Montana Tech — a 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 decision — was less pretty for the Raiders. They committed 35 attacking errors compared to 37 kills, equating to their lowest attacking average (.015) since a match three years ago against Concordia-Irvine at the same tournament. Nicole Peacock had 11 kills for the Orediggers, who hit .126 after sweeping The Master's (Calif.) earlier in the day.

On a positive note, the Raiders registered 16 more blocks, a number they'd only hit three times in the previous five seasons and not once in 2015. Gasman and Taylor Ristvedt assisted eight apiece, and McGowne assisted three in addition to her 27 assists.

Gasman, Macklin and Ristvedt had team-highs of seven kills apiece, and freshman Haleigh Wagman had six. However, that quartet also combined for 24 attacking errors.

Barcroft and Ashlyn Flynn both collected 13 digs for the Raiders, who swapped leads with the Orediggers five times in the second set, six times in the third and four times in the fourth. Attempting to force a fifth frame, SOU was down 23-22 before Peacock put down a kill and an attacking error ended the match.

The Raiders are back in action at the Slam today against Great Falls (Mont.) and ninth-ranked Vanguard (Calif.).