SOU volleyball rally falls short
LA MIRADA, Calif. — The 19th-ranked Biola Eagles dealt No. 18 Southern Oregon volleyball team its second straight road loss Tuesday in four sets, a 25-14, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23 decision at Chase Gymnasium.
On the sixth part of their seven-match road swing, the Raiders (3-3) shrugged off an ugly start and nearly extended the evening to a fifth set. They never led in the two opening frames, but they hit .296 with a side-out percentage of 80 in the third and were tied at 23 in the fourth before succumbing to a net violation and an attacking error.
SOU middles Emma Gasman (11 kills, three blocks) and Courtney Macklin (10 kills, five blocks) did efficient work on a combined 41 swings, and they had seven kills apiece in the final two sets. Lauren McGowne had 46 assists, helping Ariana Sattler reach a team-high 12 kills and Nila Lukens get to nine. Kiley Barcroft led the Raiders with 17 digs.
Hanna van Warmerdam had 15 kills to lead four attackers in double figures for Biola (4-2), which hit .227 to SOU's .150 with its two-setter look.
The Eagles, coming off a weekend upset of No. 4 Viterbo (Wisc.), locked up with the Raiders 10 times and swapped leads on four occasions in the fourth set. Biola led 12-7 early until kills by Lukens and Macklin capped an 8-2 run that gave SOU the lead. The Raiders, later trailing 22-20, stole three of the next four points behind a pair of Taylor Ristvedt kills and one from Lukens to tie it up.
SOU's trip concludes today with a 2:30 p.m. neutral-court matchup in Fullerton against No. 16 Westmont (Calif.), which will be the fourth top-25 opponent the Raiders have seen.
SOU SET FOR YEAR TWO: At Ashland, the highs and lows, learning curves and chemistry issues were on par with what should be expected from a first-year program. But by the end of 2015, the Southern Oregon University men's soccer team felt that it might be on the verge of creating something special.
Even though the Raiders were improving on the fly, they came out of the gate with a bang to win their first five games. The Cascade Conference presented them with a new challenge, and the end result was a respectable 5-8 record in the CCC and a 10-8 mark overall.
Now in year two, the Raiders have a better idea of what's to come, and head coach Biniam Afenegus can see the improvements. The roster has 16 players back, including nine regular starters and three players who redshirted, in addition to 17 players Afenegus added during his first full offseason of recruiting.
"We have that foundation that we built last year," Afenegus said. "All the players coming back have that one year of experience, so they'll be able to help the freshmen coming in because they know what to expect and the style that we want to play. That's obviously something we didn't have at this time a year ago."
The Raiders were picked to finish eighth out of 14 teams a year after tying for ninth place and finishing just a game out of the final CCC tournament spot — a race that came down to the final day of the regular season. Rocky Mountain — a national quarterfinalist in 2015 and the champion in its first year as an associate member of the CCC — has been picked to win the conference, and Corban has been picked second again coming off a runner-up showing. SOU was arguably at its most impressive last year against the two favorites, playing both Rocky and Corban within a goal on the road.
Following Tuesday's exhibition at Humboldt State (Calif.) and a Sunday match at Saint Martin's (Wash.), the Raiders will open at home against NCAA Div. III opponents George Fox and Linfield and Sept. 7 and Sept. 10. CCC play begins the next week, Sept. 16 at Walla Walla.