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Ristvedt named Ad Rutschman Small College Female Athlete of the Year

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon volleyball faithful believed the top playmaker on the floor was always on their side with Taylor Ristvedt in uniform. Friday’s announcement that she was chosen the 68th annual Oregon Sports Awards’ Ad Rutschman Small College Female Athlete of the Year further formalized her status among the school’s most dominant student-athletes.

Ristvedt, the 2018 and ‘19 Cascade Conference Player of the Year, became the second Raider women’s athlete to ever collect the prize, as awarded by Sport Oregon and NBC Sports Northwest. Linfield basketball player Kory Oleson and Warner Pacific cross-country standout Amelia Pullen were the other finalists in the category.

The driving force behind back-to-back Cascade Conference regular-season and tournament championships, Ristvedt towered above all. The 6-foot-2, left-handed swinging right-side hitter capped her career with 1,375 kills, the second-most in program history, and this fall led the CCC with 3.7 kills per set while ranking top-10 nationally in attacking efficiency.

In 2018, she was an NAIA All-America second-team selection after pushing SOU to the national quarterfinals and a final No. 8 ranking — unprecedented finishes in both respects for the Raiders. In 2019, she cracked the All-America first team, a feat previously accomplished by just two other Raiders, and was named to the NAIA Championships All-Tournament team after an appearance in the Round of 16 and a No. 9 final ranking.

SOU went 61-9 in those two seasons combined, including a 39-5 mark against CCC opponents.

Ristvedt’s consistency was key. She recorded 10 or more kills in 28 of 35 matches as a senior, and she converted more than half of her swings on an astonishing half of those occasions. Her CCC-best attacking average sat at .348; the next-best clip on the list was .283 among those posting five attacks per set. In conference action, she hit .376.

She was at her best in the postseason, amassing a career-high nine blocks in a clean sweep of rival Eastern Oregon for the CCC tournament title, then going on to deliver 4.2 kills per set (76 total) at the national tournament.

Five Raiders total have earned the Ad Rutschman award. Distance runner Jessa Perkinson was the other women’s honoree, winning it in 2018 after a career that included 14 NAIA All-America performances. The list of men’s honorees includes football players Austin Dodge (2015) and Dusty McGrorty (2003) and wrestler Mitchell Loftstedt (2010, ‘12).

SOU volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing is also a finalist for the Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year award — alongside University of Oregon football coach Mario Cristobal and women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves — which recognizes excellence among coaches, administrators and executives across prep, collegiate and professional ranks. That winner will be announced Tuesday.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU’s Taylor Ristvedt makes a hit for a point in the 2nd set.