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Raiders return home looking to extend win streak

Working on a five-match winning streak, the ninth-ranked Southern Oregon University volleyball team has positioned itself to make a run at back-to-back Cascade Conference championships as the regular season winds down with two more this week at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The second-place Raiders (20-3 overall, 11-2 CCC) are one win back of first-place Eastern Oregon with seven left to play, including a visit to EOU next week. At 7 p.m. Thursday, they’ll host streaking Northwest Christian (15-8, 7-7), and at 7 p.m. Friday, they’ll try to pay back No. 12 Corban (14-6, 11-3) for a three-set loss in Salem on Sept. 20.

NAIA TOP 25: The first new edition of the NAIA Top 25 in three weeks was released on Wednesday and had SOU up one spot to No. 9. Corban recently lost its grip on first place and was docked five spots, dropping to No. 12, while Eastern Oregon moved up to No. 3 from No. 5, its highest post of the season. SOU will be at EOU next Friday and No. 21 College of Idaho next Saturday in its seventh and eighth matches against ranked opponents.

LAST WEEK: With their eighth and ninth sweeps in conference play, the Raiders cruised back into second place by defeating Warner Pacific (25-17, 25-23, 25-17) and Multnomah (25-10, 25-16, 25-22) last Friday and Saturday in Portland. At WPU, Taylor Ristvedt dropped in 16 kills on 24 attacks, moving into fifth place on SOU’s career kills list, and Elliott Cook added eight on 14 tries. At Multnomah, the Raiders attacked at a .500 average as a team for the first time since Sept. 14, 2007, finishing 39 kills on 64 attempts. SOU has now swept the trip all five years that WPU and Multnomah have been travel partners.

Briefly

  • Two more ultra-efficient outings raised the Raiders’ team attacking average to a conference-best .277 in CCC matches. When they finished with a .280 clip last year, it was the highest since College of Idaho hit .282 in 2007.
  • Among CCC players averaging at least five attacks per set, Taylor Ristvedt ranks first with a .365 attacking clip - a full 92 points ahead of the No. 2 individual on the list, Northwest (Wash.)’s Keann White (.277) - and she’s hitting .388 in CCC play. Ristvedt also tops the CCC in kills per set (3.5), and is up to 1,174 in her career. That total ranks fifth in Raider history; she’s 60 away from the No. 2 spot.
  • Since moving into Lithia Motors Pavilion last season, the Raiders are 25-3 at home with a 5-3 record against Top 25 opponents. Northwest Christian was the last unranked team to defeat SOU in Ashland, during the 2017 season.
  • Over her last four matches, Elliott Cook has logged 32 kills compared to four errors, hitting .500. She’s at .276 in CCC matches and Makayla Hoyt is at .347. On the CCC’s blocks-per-set leaderboard, Cook (5th, 1.1), Hoyt (9th, 0.9) and Ristvedt (14th, 0.8) are each among the top-15.
  • Emma Ryan has recorded double-figure dig total in 10 consecutive matches, the longest such stretch of her career. The senior libero is averaging 4.2 per set in CCC matches, the circuit’s sixth-best mark.
  • SOU hit the 20-win milestone last weekend for the ninth time since Josh Rohlfing took over as head coach in 2007.

About Northwest Christian

  • Since starting 3-6 in CCC play, the Beacons have won four of their last five - including a stunning sweep at College of Idaho and last Friday’s four-set win over Northwest (Wash.), which defeated Corban the next night.
  • The Raiders took the first matchup in Eugene in straight sets (17-18-16) on Sept. 21 behind Ristvedt’s 16 kills and Cook’s seven blocks, holding the Beacons to a .041 attack. SOU is 23-4 in the all-time series.
  • The Beacons are hitting .173 in CCC matches and holding opponents to .161. Their go-to hitters are junior Claire Salness (2.8/set, .159) and freshman Halle Neumann (1.9/set, .130).

About Corban

  • The Warriors are in must-win mode to keep their title hopes alive, having dropped three of their last four after starting 10-0 in conference play.
  • They handled SOU in straight sets (20-20-17) in Salem for the second year in a row on Sept. 20, making the Raiders their fifth top-15 victim of the season. Freshman middle Lanae Wohlmacher was the unlikely star with 11 kills in a .294 team attack, the best for a Raider opponent this season.
  • SOU is 55-13 all-time against the Warriors and won both matchups in Ashland last season, including a CCC Tournament semifinal match.
  • Corban’s .209 attack is the fourth-best in the CCC, and it features four players averaging at least 1.8 kills per set: Cassie Cunningham (2.7), Avari Ridgway (2.7), Jacquelyn Clark (1.9) and Sarena Bartley (1.8).

Southern Oregon University junior middle blocker Makayla Hoyt (13) goes up for a kill during the Raiders’ match against College of Idaho on Sept. 27 at Lithia Motors Pavilion in Ashland. (PHOTO BY: Al Case / Ashland Daily Photo)