Raiders cruise into CCC tournament title game

A week after getting run out of the gym at Corban, 10th-ranked Southern Oregon didn’t miss its chance to get back at the No. 22 Warriors in the semifinal round of the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank.

The tables turned Friday night at Lithia Motors Pavilion, where the top-seeded Raiders dominated at the net with 14 blocks for a 25-14, 25-17, 25-22 victory. All-star middle Makayla Hoyt had seven of them - including a career-high five of the solo variety — and fellow all-star Elliott Cook was in on five more as they limited the Warriors to a .047 attacking average.

When the Warriors swept SOU last Friday in Salem — making the Raiders share the regular-season title with Eastern Oregon instead of taking it outright — they hit .366 and SOU recorded only three blocks. The turnaround will put SOU in the tournament championship match for the first time since 2011, 7 p.m. Saturday against EOU.

“We preached intensity all week and they followed through with it,” SOU head coach Josh Rohlfing said. “We were excited to get another chance to play Corban and it was really encouraging to see us playing at such a high level in a big match like this.”

The Warriors, who captured last year’s regular-season and tournament titles, dropped to 20-11 and will have to hope for an at-large bid when the NAIA National Tournament field is announced next week.

The Raiders went to 13-1 on their home floor and 25-3 overall, marking their second 25-win season in the last decade.

Their stellar defense extended to the back row, where libero Emma Ryan and defensive specialist Kiley Barcroft collected 13 digs each. Corban committed 25 unforced errors; Demi Winters totaled eight kills with just one attacking error, but the rest of the team combined for 27 kills and 28 errors.

CCC Player of the Year Taylor Ristvedt and Dani Johnson had eight kills apiece for the Raiders, who hit .163. Natalie James distributed 14 assists with six digs and Hannah Bogatin had 11 assists and four digs.

Ristvedt and Malie Rube were also in on three blocks apiece. The block total was SOU’s highest since Sept. 1, a span of 18 matches.

The Raiders will be going for their first tournament title in 2010 — the last year they hosted.

EOU advanced to the final by sweeping College of Idaho earlier in the day. The Mountaineers clinched the CCC’s second automatic bid to the national tourney.

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