Raiders beat Owls, advance to conference finals

The Southern Oregon volleyball team advanced to the Cascade Conference tournament finals with a 25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-12 victory over Oregon Tech in the semifinals Friday in Caldwell, Idaho.

The Raiders will face 21st-ranked College of Idaho on Saturday. The Coyotes beat Eastern Oregon in four games in the other semifinal.

SOU improved to 20-9 on the season; Oregon Tech fell to 22-7.

SOU junior setter Lindsey Stone had one of her best matches of the year, finishing with 60 assists, 14 digs and seven kills with no errors.

Also for the Raiders, Leanne Stennett finished with 16 kills, while Mia Wortel and Sarah Holgen both had 15 kills. Maggie Rivers had a team-high 27 digs and Holgen added 11.

Krista Wooley led OIT with a match-high 21 kills.

The first game was a preview of how the match would go, with neither team getting much of an upper hand.

Tied at 20, sophomore Leah Bergstrom came through with a kill to give SOU a slim 21-20 lead, and an OIT attack error gave SOU a 22-20 lead. The Owls still cut the lead to one at 22-21, 23-22 and 24-23 before Stennett put away a kill to give SOU the first game.

The two teams traded victories in the second and third games before OIT jumped out quick in the fourth and held off a late SOU charge to force a fifth game.

There, SOU head coach Josh Rohlfing inserted freshman spark plug Kalista Harrison and the move paid off immediately.

Back-to-back kills by the Roseburg product gave SOU a 4-1 lead and an OIT service error had SOU rolling at 6-2.

OIT tried to hang around and cut the lead to 11-10, but back-to-back kills by Harrison and Holgen gave SOU a 12-10 lead and a Holgen kill put an end to the match and sent SOU to the championship.

The winner of Saturday's championship match receives an automatic berth to the NAIA National Tournament.

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