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Raiders still alive despite nationals loss

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The Southern Oregon University volleyball team went down for the first time in 68 days Thursday in its NAIA championships pool-play finale, but the fifth-ranked Raiders won’t have to sit on the loss for long.

Central Methodist (Mo.) ended SOU’s winning streak at 16 matches with a 17-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-27, 15-12 victory at the Tyson Events Center, stealing the tiebreaker set with five unanswered points.

Outside hitter Jane Kickham’s season-high 19 kills and right-side hitter Jordan Wolfe’s 16 kills pushed the 12th-ranked Eagles — champions of the Heart of America Conference — across the finish line.

Both SOU (31-4) and CMU (33-3) had already reserved spots in the 16-team elimination bracket by winning their first two Pool E matches.

In the round of 16, the Raiders will play Friday at 1:45 p.m. Pacific Time against 11th-ranked Marian (Ind.) (34-2), which went 3-0 in its pool.Should the Raiders advance to the quarterfinals, they’d play again at 6:15 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, the semifinals are scheduled for 9 a.m. and the national championship match for 5 p.m.

A day after overcoming a 2-1 sets deficit against Bellevue (Neb.), the Raiders appeared to be on the same trajectory against the Eagles.

They used Makayla Hoyt’s kill to fight off match point at 24-23 in the fourth set and closed it out with Kylie Ristvedt’s smash and Emma Ryan’s service ace.

After surrendering the first five points in the fifth, they chipped away and used a 6-1 run to tie it at 7-all on back-to-back Maddie Pernich kills.

Later, consecutive CMU attacking errors gave them a 12-10 edge before the Eagles claimed five straight, including four on kills, to end it.

Kickham accounted for two of the last three points with her final kills.

Taylor Ristvedt led the Raiders with 18 kills but was held below her season attacking average at .259, taking 58 cuts.

Elliott Cook had 12 kills and five blocks, Hoyt had 10 kills and five blocks (four solo), and Pernich recorded three of her 10 kills in the tiebreaker.

Emma Ryan did all she could to slow down the Eagles’ attack with 37 digs — the highest total for a Raider since 2012.

Kadyn Jones also totaled a career-high with 21 digs.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU’s Maddie Pernich (19) and Makayla Hoyt (13) make a block in a match earlier this season. The Raiders enter the round of 16 at nationals on Friday.