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SOU wraps up season with five-set victory

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Despite playing for little more than pride and a higher postseason ranking, the Southern Oregon University volleyball team battled through five sets and ended its season on high note Thursday with a quality win over 22nd-ranked Coastal Georgia at the Tyson Events Center.

Playing their third and final pool match at the NAIA Championships after being eliminated with losses in the first two, the 19th-ranked Raiders packed away a 25-15, 16-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-9 decision and brought their final record to 26-6, matching the program's highest win total in 11 years.

The night included commendable performances by the team's only two seniors, Tyana Andrews and Laura Morse. Andrews went for a team-high 15 kills on just 24 attacks to go with 14 digs and five blocks, while Morse added 11 kills and three digs in her final match.

Corynn Kopra added 13 kills, 14 digs and three blocks, bringing her total to 58 kills on the week, and Lauren McGowne had 49 assists and five digs. Ashlyn Flynn again led the team in digs with 15, while Emma Gasman (7 kills), Courtney Macklin (6) and Niki Small (4) all contributed.

McGowne's assist total gave her 1,347 on the season — the fourth-highest total in Raider history. Before her, no one had broken into the top-five on the list since 2003.

The Raiders attacked at a .267 average as a team, which brought their mark to .257 for the season, the program's best mark since 1998.

Coastal Georgia, which went 0-3 in pool play, finished up at 31-6. The Mariners were held to a .156 attack and were led by Emma Anderson's 17 kills.

SOU never trailed the fifth set, taking a 6-3 lead with three straight points on kills by Macklin and Andrews and a Mariner error. Their padding was at least two points the rest of the way, and two Kopra kills punctuated the win.

The Raiders dominated the first two sets they won, hitting .419 and .435 in the frames. In the first, third and fifth sets, they made a combined three attacking errors.

Their run at the tournament started Tuesday with a five-set loss to seventh-ranked Midland (Neb.) in which they won two of the first three sets and led 13-12 in the fifth. On Wednesday, they lost 3-1 against sixth-ranked Vanguard (Calif.) but were tied 23-23 in the fourth.

Midland and Vanguard both moved on to the final 12-team single-elimination bracket.