Raiders open with split

Southern Oregon split its first two matches of the inaugural Raider Classic on Friday, walloping Simpson before taking a similar pounding itself courtesy of No. 1-ranked Fresno Pacific.

The 12th-ranked Raiders won the first 14 points en route to a convincing 25-7, 25-18, 25-17 victory over Simpson in one of the tourney's four opening-day matches, then fell to Fresno 25-18, 25-16, 25-20 at McNeal Pavilion.

In other Classic matches Friday: Oregon Tech outlasted Simpson in five games, and the defending national champion Sunbirds crushed Oregon Tech in three games.

The four-team tournament wraps up with two matches Saturday: Simpson faces Fresno Pacific at 9:30 a.m. and Southern Oregon takes on Fresno Pacific again at noon.

Southern Oregon wowed the 109 fans who showed up to watch its season-opener, blitzing Simpson with an array of quick crosscourt sets and net-hugging blocks. Mia Wortel and Sarah Holgen led the way with 11 kills apiece, Lindsey Stone finished with 26 assists and Maggie Rivers racked up 17 digs.

"I thought the first game they came out and played great," SOU second-year head coach Josh Rohlfing said. "I believe that's a glimpse of what we're capable of doing all year. The youth is going to come out at times, and it did in the second and third games, but it's about learning to play with intensity when you're adrenalin is gone."

In the nightcap, Fresno Pacific, which played without reigning NAIA player of the year Shu Liu, used an 11-5 run to close out the first game after SOU had cut the Sunbirds' lead to 14-13, and needed a 6-3 burst to escape another Raider rally in Game 3.

Brittany Pierce led Fresno Pacific with 12 kills and Tarin Tartaglia had a match-high 38 assists.

Freshman Kalista Harrison led the Raiders with eight kills and Holgen finished with six kills.

Lindsey Stone had 23 assists to lead the Raiders and Harrison and Maggie Rivers shared team-high honors with six digs.

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