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Raiders survive scare, edge Northwest

ASHLAND — The way things have gone recently, the Southern Oregon volleyball team will take wins against Northwest (Wash.) however it can get them. On Saturday night at Lithia Motors Pavilion, it got one in five sets.

After going to a tiebreaker with the Eagles (14-13 overall, 10-8 Cascade Conference) for the second time this season, the Raiders (23-2, 16-2) avenged an early loss by scores of 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 19-25 and 15-11. Outside hitter Dani Johnson, celebrating her senior night, delivered a career-high 23 kills, Taylor Ristvedt had 21 and Makayla Hoyt dropped in 17 on 29 swings.

SOU trailed the fifth set, 6-3, before Hannah Bogatin set up Nila Lukens, Hoyt and Johnson for kills on consecutive points. Up 12-10 and coming out of a timeout, Ristvedt took over with back-to-back kills and a solo block of Hannah Lord to end the match.

Northwest had defeated the Raiders in six straight matchups and had advantages in attacking average (.273 to .256) and blocks (14 to 9). Ristvedt had nine kills in the first set but the Eagles let it get away, watching SOU overcome a 23-20 deficit with a 7-2 spurt that included three Hoyt kills and was finished by Malie Rube’s service ace.

“Credit to Northwest; they’re one of those teams that matches up well with us and are incredibly well-coached,” SOU head coach Josh Rohlfing said. “For us, it’s really important to have these matches and make big plays in those positions to get ready for the postseason.”

Emma Ryan’s 23 digs, to go with two service aces, led SOU’s back row. Johnson and Kiley Barcroft both had nine. Bogatin led the team with 33 assists and Natalie James totaled 31.

Four Eagles reached double figures in kills thanks to Courteney Carr’s 45 assists: Sarah Warner (16), Lord (12), Audrey Saelens (12) and Keann White (10).

The Raiders finished their regular-season home schedule with a 12-1 record. If they can win their last two regular-season matches, next Friday and Saturday at Corban and Northwest Christian, they’ll host the CCC Tournament’s semifinal and championship rounds on Nov. 9 and 10.

Northwest stayed in fifth place.