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College Roundup: SOU closes in on CCC title

ASHLAND — One win is all that stands between seventh-ranked Southern Oregon and another Cascade Conference volleyball title after dismissing Northwest (Wash.) with little trouble on Friday night, 25-16, 25-16, 25-17 at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The Raiders (26-3 overall, 17-2 CCC) will bring an 11-match winning streak into today’s 5 p.m. regular-season finale against Evergreen (Wash.). If they win, they’ll own at least a share of the title. And if they finish as co-champions with Eastern Oregon — which also sits at 17-2 going into its final match at Warner Pacific — the Raiders will own the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed and hosting rights to the semifinal and final rounds of the CCC Championships on Nov. 15 and 16.

They never trailed the Eagles (13-12, 11-8) after scoring seven straight points to take an 8-3 lead in the opening frame. NAIA Attacker of the Week Taylor Ristvedt nailed down 13 kills with three assisted blocks and Nila Lukens had seven of her eight kills in the final two sets, heading a team attacking average of .263.

Kadyn Jones recorded 16 digs and two aces, Emma Ryan had 14 digs and Sara Fanger added nine to send the Eagles to a .083 attack and hold Hannah Lord — one of the top hitters in the CCC — to seven kills compared to eight errors on 30 swings.

“I thought both teams played a little tense at the start, but our floor defense really changed the shape of the match and I thought we served really well,” SOU coach Josh Rohlfing said. “I thought we made really good on-court adjustments as the match progressed and that just comes from experience.”

Elliott Cook’s team-high four blocks helped. She and Maddie Pernich both had six kills.

Hannah Bogatin directed the attack with 22 assists and two aces, and Tehani Faitau had 13 assists and once ace.

Kylie Szczepanski was in on five of the Eagles’ eight blocks. Tatiana Ensz, Abigail Broussard and Keann White had five kills each.

Following today’s match, the Raiders will honor their five seniors: Bogatin, Fanger, Lukens, Ristvedt and Ryan.

Men’s Cross Country

CCC CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Cottage Grove, though it couldn’t close the gap completely on second-ranked College of Idaho, the No. 5 Southern Oregon men’s cross country team continued trending in the right direction with a second-place effort at Middlefield Golf Course.

Senior Brandon Kelsey’s big-race experience was evident as he turned in a runner-up effort, completing the 8,000-meter trek in 25 minutes 19.7 seconds — 70 seconds faster than his time at the CCC Preview Meet on the same course in September. Junior Alex Harbert-Castro (25:40.4) and senior Kevin VanDyke (25:52.0) joined Kelsey as All-CCC performers, placing 11th and 12th among 68 finishers.

College of Idaho celebrated its second straight title with 43 team points by putting four individuals in the top-10. The Raiders accumulated 59 points, putting four runners in front of 17th-ranked Oregon Tech’s second scorer and nine in front of 23rd-ranked Eastern Oregon’s third. The Owls totaled 84 points in third place and the Mountaineers had 110 in fourth.

Senior Gabe Loader placed 14th in 25:57.9 and freshman Shea Van Butler placed 20th in 26:15.9 to complete SOU’s scoring.

Four more Raiders finished within the next 18 seconds: 21st-place Deklan Humble (26:16.0), 22nd-place Zeke Stlezer (26:16.5), 25th-place Jensen Salvatori (26:32.4) and 26th-place Isaac Fernandez (26:34.0).

Kelsey was All-CCC for the second time — he placed fourth in 2018 — and came in just four seconds after champion Riley Sine of Northwest (Wash.). At the halfway point of the race, he was in eighth place.

Harbert-Castro’s stellar season continued with another significant improvement; at last year’s CCC Championships, he placed 43rd. VanDyke, after missing All-CCC status by one spot in 2018, earned the honor by taking the final spot in his third and final appearance at the meet.

The Raiders will have two weeks to prepare for the Nov. 22 NAIA Championships in Vancouver, Wash. Kelsey will be the team’s lone All-American returning to the race.

Women’s Cross Country

CCC CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Cottage Grove, Shayla Potratz and Sydnee Kizziar saved the best cross-country performances to this point in their careers for the CCC Championships, leading Southern Oregon to second place for the second year in a row.

Potratz, a junior from Phoenix, recorded a personal best by 24 seconds and Kizziar, a sophomore from Folsom, Calif., did the same by a margin of 21 seconds to place sixth and seventh among 75 total finishers. Potratz ran 5,000 meters in 18:08.9 and Kizziar did so in 18:09.1, giving both All-CCC status for the first time at Middlefield Golf Course.

Third-ranked College of Idaho topped the team standings with 70 points, in front of No. 9 SOU’s 70, No. 12 Eastern Oregon’s 88 and No. 18 Oregon Tech’s 94.

“I’m really proud of Shayla and Sydnee,” SOU coach Grier Gatlin said. “Both ran huge PRs and seem to still have room to improve. They ran awesome.”

SOU’s next three scorers were junior Ariana Toland in 16th place (18:34.2), freshman Kira Morrow in 17th (18:37.9) and junior Emma Amundsen in 27th (19:09.4).

C of I won its title by getting an 18th-place finish from its final scorer. Eastern Oregon’s scoring spread of 1:41 accounted for the gap between second and third place; the Raiders’ spread was 55 seconds and they had four placers in front of EOU’s third.

Potratz and Kizziar were SOU’s first two finishers throughout the regular season, but both made sizable jumps this season compared to last. At the 2018 CCC Championships, Potratz was the Raiders’ seventh finisher and 25th place overall, while Kizziar was the team’s fifth scorer in 16th place.

Lauren Fillipow was just outside of the scoring mix, placing 29th in 19:16.2.

“Both (SOU men’s and women’s) teams have significantly improved over the last two months and we’re definitely running our best at the right time of the season,” Gatlin said.

Warner Pacific freshman Amelia Pullen dominated the race individually, winning in 17:35.7 to clear the runner-up by more than 11 seconds.

SOU is a shoo-in to receive an at-large team bid to the NAIA Championships, which will be held on Nov. 22 in Vancouver, Wash.