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Raiders open season with pair of wins

ASHLAND – Sixth-ranked Southern Oregon banked its first two wins with relative ease, downing Simpson (Calif.) in three sets and Life Pacific (Calif.) in four in the season-opening SOU Volleyball Invite on Friday at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The Raiders needed 54 minutes to dismiss Simpson (0-2), as Elliott Cook got in on seven of the team's 13 blocks to stick the Redhawks with a negative-.091 attack in the 25-9, 25-12, 25-12 decision.

Life Pacific (1-1) made the Raiders work longer before they pulled away 25-13, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17. Taylor Ristvedt had 14 kills, Makayla Hoyt had 10, and the NAIA All-Americans combined for a .321 attacking average.

SOU was streakier in the nightcap, scoring the final 11 points of the first set with a rally that setter Kadyn Jones sparked with three aces, and ending the second on a 13-3 spurt that included a 5-0 run to end it. Jones finished with 22 assists, 12 digs and four aces, and Kya Knuth recorded two of her three aces in the fourth frame.

SOU's back row of Emma Ryan, Sara Fanger and Knuth combined for 31 digs. It other half of a two-setter rotation, freshman Tehani Faitau, debuted with a team-high 39 assists on the day.

Along with her block total, Cook went for nine kills without an error in the matches. She was one of many who balanced the scoresheet against Simpson: Kylie Ristvedt, Taylor Ristvedt and Hoyt had six kills each, and Nila Lukens added five.

SOU will be back on the floor next weekend when it hosts 18th-ranked Vanguard (Calif.), 20th-ranked Jamestown (N.D.), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and William Jessup (Calif.).