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SOU advances despite loss to Viterbo

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — For the second time in team history, Southern Oregon University advanced out of pool play at the NAIA Volleyball Championships on Thursday at the Tyson Events Center, though not quite in the fashion it had hoped.

The 10th-ranked Raiders were five-set losers in their final Pool G match against No. 7 Viterbo (Wis.) — 18-25, 19-25, 25-15, 25-19, 15-13 — which created a three-way tie for first place in the group between SOU, Viterbo and Jamestown (N.D.) with matching 2-1 records. The Raiders needed to win just one set, however, to take to group’s top seed on tiebreaker criteria — set-win percentage in matches between the teams in question. Viterbo and beat Jamestown in a tiebreaker to determine the No. 2 seed.

Today at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, the Raiders (28-4) will open the 16-team elimination bracket against ninth-ranked Rocky Mountain (Mont.) (30-5), the Frontier Conference champion and No. 2 seed out of Group H. If they can move on to the quarterfinal round for the first time in team history, they’d play at 6:15 p.m. PST Friday against the winner of a match between second-ranked Park (Mo.) and No. 16 College of Idaho.

Rocky and SOU have only matched up once previously, in the 2000 postseason.

After sweeping through their first two matches of the tournament, the Raiders again looked untouchable early against Viterbo (31-7), the pool favorite.

Junior outside hitter Nila Lukens dominated the first frame with six kills on eight attacks, putting down the set winner that guaranteed the Raiders would move on. Lukens finished with a team-high 15 kills, followed by Makayla Hoyt’s 14.

The second set was even more lopsided. SOU led 17-6 at one point after a 9-2 spurt and put down its first 10 attacks without an error, wrapping the set with a .500 attacking average.

But after holding Viterbo’s offense to 21 kills with 18 errors through the first two, the V-Hawks recorded 33 kills with 11 errors the rest of the way. Katie Frohmader finished with 16 and Lydia Xu had 12.

The tiebreaker was tight all the way; Xu tied it at 13-13 with her final kill. Hannah Erickson’s fourth and fifth service aces of the match finished it off.

The Cascade Conference has four teams in the elimination bracket for the first time ever, a year after sending three through. Along with SOU and College of Idaho, Corban and Eastern Oregon also reserved their spots Thursday.

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