SOU volleyball team knocks off first-place Eastern Oregon

The Southern Oregon University volleyball team knew it let 10th-ranked Eastern Oregon off the hook when the Raiders were a set away from victory a month ago in La Grande.

Not this time. Not even close.

The Raiders not only knocked off the Cascade Conference's first-place team Friday night, they dominated from start to finish in a 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 sweep of the Mountaineers on Friday night at Bob Riehm Arena for their eighth straight win.

Paulla Pinheiro posted 14 kills, Emma Gasman had 13 and EOU (23-4, 13-2) couldn't slow down the league's top attack as the Raiders (15-7, 12-3) hit at an average of .305 to the Mountaineers' .195. Junior middle Nikki Keller was particularly unstoppable when the ball came her way, hitting .667 with nine kills.

Lauren McGowne posted 45 assists while Renee Yomtob and Brookelynn Cole controlled the match in the back row with 21 and 13 digs, respectively.

"What's become one of our strengths is that we have a pretty good sideout offense: If they get a kill and go back to serve, we feel we can get a point back out of serve-receive," SOU coach Josh Rohlfing said. "That's been our mainstay lately, doing a great job of settling ourselves and having the mental capacity to say, 'That was one point, let's go get the next.'"

To Rohlfing's point, SOU had eight runs of three points or more and EOU had three.

Eastern fell into a first-place tie with College of Idaho, which will visit SOU today in the Raiders' final home contest of the regular season. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The Raiders took over in the first set when Emma Gasman lifted them out of a 17-16 hole with kills on three straight swings to spark an 8-2 run. Liz Madden, who recorded seven kills, put down her biggest to end a second set that the Raiders never trailed after going up 5-4.

In the third frame, Eastern stole six straight points for an 18-17 edge, but Pinheiro quickly tied it. McGowne then served the Raiders to three straight points, capped by her only ace, and kills by Gasman, Madden and Goudarzian finished it.

Goudarzian was the only player in the match with a double-double, finishing with 10 kills and 10 digs.

Stefani Sorensen kept the Mountaineers in it with 15 kills on 37 tries. Taylor Steward added eight kills and 16 digs.

Five of the last six matchups between the teams had gone all the way to five sets, including Eastern's win last year at Riehm Arena and the Sept. 28 meeting on EOU's home floor. In that one, the Raiders had a 2-1 set advantage a night after sweeping College of Idaho but were behind for the rest of the match.

"In terms of efficiency of hitting, it was very similar to (the first time the teams played)," Rohlfing said. "The difference then was, they were getting kills at will. Their primary hitters are phenomenal, but tonight we did a great job of making sure their secondary hitters didn't hurt us."

They haven't lost since. The win streak, during which they've won 24 of 26 sets, is SOU's longest since it ran off 17 straight in 2011. The Raiders are also now 10-1 at home.

With just three conference matches remaining, though, the Raiders would need a little help for a CCC championship. A win today would at least give them the inside track to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and a bye to the semifinal round.

Women's Basketball

Lynn Kennedy's 200th career head-coaching victory was granted with little resistance Friday afternoon in the SOU Women's Basketball Tip-Off Classic.

Southern Oregon put six players in double figures and ran all over California Maritime to score a 99-80 win in the season-opener for both teams at Bob Riehm Arena.

Sophomore post Carly Meister had team-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Raiders, who shot 50 percent (32-for-64) from the field. Fifty-four points came off the bench — Brenna Anderson had 14, Kristin Smeaton 13 and Bree Park 12 — while Kristen Schoenherr and Autumn Duran had 13 and 10, respectively, in their first starts for SOU.

Kennedy, whose career as a head coach has included stops at Northwest and New Mexico Highlands, reached the milestone with his 157th win at SOU. He and the Raiders have won their last seven openers.

They got this one by busting open a 32-32 game in the last five minutes of the first half with an 18-6 run capped by a pair of Kristin Smeaton 3-pointers and Kiara Moore's layup. The lead grew to as large as 31 with six minutes left in the game.

SOU had 10 triples in all, led by Park's 4-for-6 effort.

The game also included 65 fouls and 90 free throws.

The Tip-Off Classic will continue today with a 1 p.m. contest between Northwest Christian and Cal Maritime. SOU plays Pacific Union at 10:30 p.m.

Earlier Friday, Northwest Christian defeated Pacific Union, 71-60, behind Hannah Frederick's 24 points.

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