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SOU ROUNDUP: Raiders capture volleyball title

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ASHLAND — Co-champions in the Cascade Conference regular season, Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon were expected to produce more drama Saturday afternoon after splitting two five-set classics in their first matchups.

But in the final of the CCC championships, the theatrics were replaced by a Raider clinic.

The seventh-ranked Raiders rattled fourth-ranked EOU from the jump of a 25-12, 25-22, 25-18 dismantling at Lithia Motors Pavilion, emphatically claiming their second straight tournament crown.

They had 10 blocks in the first set — their highest total in a single frame during coach Josh Rohlfing’s 13-year tenure — and sunk the Mountaineers to a .036 attacking average, their lowest since 2010.

CCC player-of-the-year Taylor Ristvedt had 10 kills and was in on a career-high nine of SOU’s 12 total blocks. Her previous season high was six; in the first set, she assisted seven.

Elliott Cook tallied nine kills and five blocks, Makayla Hoyt had six kills and seven blocks, and Maddie Pernich went for eight kills on 14 swings as the Raiders finished off the rout in just 66 minutes.

“When you have a big match and your team is just so consistent in pregame and every practice leading up to it, it’s such a relieving feeling as a coach,” Rohlfing said. “It wasn’t about having to do something, it was about wanting to accomplish something as a group and we were phenomenal in every facet of the game.”

At 29-3 overall, the Raiders are expected to get a bye through next weekend’s NAIA opening round when the 44-team national tournament field is announced Monday. They’ll go straight to the final site — Sioux City, Iowa — for the NAIA championships pool play Dec. 3-7. The Mountaineers (29-3) will likely do the same, having clinched the CCC’s second automatic bid to the tourney with their sweep of Corban in Friday’s semifinals.

The Mountaineers won their first matchup with SOU in Ashland and had a 2-0 set lead two weeks ago in La Grande before the Raiders apparently solved their attack, storming back that night for a stunning five-set win.

The Raiders have now won six consecutive sets against them for the first time since 2006. They last swept EOU in 2013, a span of 14 matches ago.

SOU’s floor defense was key again, highlighted by Emma Ryan’s 19 digs, Hannah Botagin’s nine and Sara Fanger’s eight.

The tone was established at the net, however. EOU’s top attacker, Megan Bunn, was blocked eight times overall and six times in the first set, including on four points during a 7-0 SOU run.

Bogatin’s 24 assists and Tehani Faitau’s 17 helped the Raiders hit .264 as a team. Nila Lukens chipped in six kills and Kylie Ristvedt had four.

“We served them really tough, our blocking was outstanding and the floor defense was ridiculous,” Rohlfing said. “Everything just came up gold tonight and this group deserved it.”

The Raiders will take a 14-match winning streak to nationals. They’ve won 18 consecutive sets.

Football

MONTANA WESTERN 69, SOU 29: At Dillon, Mont., Jon Jund threw five touchdown passes and rushed for two more, helping Montana Western to the highest point total ever for a Southern Oregon opponent in Frontier Conference play.

The game was the last of 2019 for both teams. The Bulldogs finished second in the FC with a 7-3 record, and the Raiders wrapped up at 4-7 overall and 4-6 in conference.

Jund completed 16-of-26 attempts for 383 yards without an interception and rushed 11 times for 88 yards. Nate Simkins was on the receiving end of three of Jund’s TD passes, accumulating 153 reception yards, and Kylar Prante ran for 118 yards on 12 carries.

SOU quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson completed 24 of 42 passes for three TDs and no picks. Jaden Cummings, Jordan Suell and Anthony Swanson all had one TD catch.

Michael Chisley Jr. added a 96-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Hutchinson ended 2019 with four 300-yard games and 18 TD passes.

Suell’s big finish included eight TD catches in SOU’s last five games and 12 on the season. The senior from Vancouver, Wash., capped his career with 27 TD receptions, the fourth-most in SOU history.

Men’s Basketball

SOU 62, UC MERCED 56: At Klamath Falls, Southern Oregon held UC Merced to 37-percent shooting and hung on down the stretch for its third straight win in the Lithia Classic.

Jordan Hunt recorded 15 points and six rebounds and Tate Hoffman had 14 points and six boards for the 18th-ranked Raiders (3-1). The senior forwards combined to shoot 11 of 20 from the field with four 3-pointers, and Hoffman’s triple with 10:39 left extended SOU’s lead to 51-37, its most comfortable of the game.

The Bobcats (4-2) crept back with an 11-3 run to cut the lead to four before Teron Bradford’s free throws sealed the win with 13 seconds remaining.

Aaron Borich scored 10 points and hit 2-of-3 from 3. He and Bradford both distributed four assists.

Conor Carroll and Josh Washington both scored six, helping the Raiders to 19 bench points.

The win brought SOU coach Brian McDermott within one of 500 for his career.

Women’s Basketball

SOU 87, UC MERCED 64: At Klamath Falls, Southern Oregon sophomore guard Dominique Harding and freshman post Kami Walk went off for career highs against UC Merced in the Lithia Classic.

Harding shot 10 of 15 from the field and 3 of 6 from 3-point range to score 25 points with eight rebounds. Walk poured in 21 by shooting 6 of 10 and hitting 8 of 9 at the line, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

The Raiders improved to 3-2. The point total, achieved on a season-best 46-percent shooting (33 of 72), was the team’s highest since last December.

Syd’Nee Fryer helped the cause by stuffing the box score with 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals. Annika Riddell recorded seven points and four boards off the bench.

SOU forced 27 Bobcats turnovers, including 16 in the first half to go into the break with a 33-31 lead. The Raiders outscored Merced 31-14 in the third, where Harding totaled 10 points and Fryer dished out five assists.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU’s Maddie Pernich (19) and Makayla Hoyt (13) make a block for a point in the 2nd set.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU’s Taylor Ristvedt makes a hit for a point in the 2nd set.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune SOU’s Taylor Ristvedt makes a hit for a point in the 2nd set.