Southern Oregon volleyball team wins tough home match against Northwest

Southern Oregon overcame a slow start against Northwest to defeat the Eagles 3-1 (21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-18) in Cascade Collegiate Conference volleyball Friday night at Bob Riehm Arena.

With the win, 18th-ranked SOU improves to 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the CCC. Northwest falls to 5-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

Northwest won the battle of two teams struggling on the attack in the opening set, as the Eagles hit .150 to SOU's .116 attack percentage. The Eagles used a six-point streak to turn an 10-8 deficit into a 14-10 advantage, sparked by three consecutive Breanna Covey kills. The Raiders responded with a 7-3 run to tie it up at 17-17, but Northwest used an 8-4 run to earn the opening-set victory, clinching the 25-21 win on Covey's fifth kill of the set.

Southern Oregon took the first three points of the second set, but Northwest tied it at 5-5 and eventually took a three-point lead at 14-11. The Raiders tied it at 15-15, and neither team led by more than two points the rest of the set. Southern Oregon had two chances at match point leading 24-22 and 24-23, but a Covey kill pulled Northwest within one and Haley Fikso's attack error tied the set at 24 apiece. The Raiders pulled out the 26-24 win on a Natalie Scheller kill followed by a Molly Boyle attack error.

The third set continued the back-and-forth string of the previous two games. Southern Oregon led 6-3 early, but Northwest eventually tied it and picked up a three-point lead of its own at 13-10. The Eagles continued to lead by three at 16-13, but back-to-back kills by Sarah Holgen and an attack error by Olivia Vandlac tied the set at 16 apiece. The Raiders scored four of the next five points to take a 20-17 lead. Northwest pulled within one at 21-20, but SOU got kills from Fikso, Renee Yomtob and Holgen to set up match point, and Brookelynn Cole sealed the 25-21 set victory with a service ace.

Southern Oregon finally hit its stride in the final set, hitting .314 as a team while limiting the Eagles to an .083 attack percentage. Three-straight Fikso kills gave SOU a 12-6 lead, and Megan Bartling stretched it to a seven-point advantage with a kill following a Northwest timeout. The Raiders stretched the lead to 20-12 on Scheller's kill, but Northwest would not give up, pulling within five at 21-16. Lauren Swetland's kill closed out a 4-2 SOU run to give the Raiders the set and the match victory.

Holgen led both teams with 17 kills and also picked up 19 digs for the Raiders. Bartling finished with 13 kills and a .407 attack percentage, while Fikso reached double-figures with 10 kills. Covey led Northwest with 12 kills, while Heather Shulke led the Eagles with 17 digs and Lauryn Ernster's 34 assists served as the team-high tally. Caryn Westrick finished with 36 assists to lead SOU, with Becky Johnstone adding a match-high 26 digs.

The Raiders' team attack percentage improved in each set, from .116 in the opener to .128 in the second, .186 in the third and finally .314 in the clincher. Northwest's best set was the second, when the Eagles hit .234.

Both teams return to action tonight, with the Raiders hosting Evergreen State.

and the Eagles traveling to Klamath Falls to take on Oregon Tech. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

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