The Southern Oregon University men’s soccer team will experience another postseason first Saturday when the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round comes to Raider Stadium.
The national office announced Monday that the Raiders (16-2-3) will host the University of California, Merced (13-4-2) in one of 15 Opening Round games across the NAIA and the first-ever in Ashland. A start time has yet to be determined.
The Raiders were ranked 14th in last week’s final NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll but received the No. 13 seed in the tournament. If they defeat the Bobcats, they’d advance to the 16-team final site in Irvine, Calif., and play a second-round game Nov. 26 against No. 4 Rio Grande (Ohio) or Lawrence Tech (Mich.).
UC Merced was the regular-season champion of the California Pacific Conference and was defeated in the semifinal round of the conference tournament by Embry-Riddle (Ariz.).
The Bobcats also dropped a 1-0 decision at home against SOU on Sept. 8 - the second piece of the Raiders’ active 19-game unbeaten streak. Mitchell Pinney scored the game-winner that day in the 24th minute, but it was one of just three shots on goal for the Raiders.
The Raiders and Bobcats both made their first national tournament appearances last season. SOU lost at No. 8-seeded Georgia Gwinnett, 3-2, and UC Merced lost at No. 9-seeded Vanguard (Calif.), 3-0.
RAIDERS GET PASS TO NAIA NATIONAL TOURNAMENT FINAL SITE: Southern Oregon University has earned the right to sit out the Opening Round of the NAIA Volleyball National Tournament, the national office announced Monday, and will go straight to the 32-team final site.
The Raiders (26-3), after claiming the Cascade Conference Tournament championship on Saturday, stayed at No. 10 in the final NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll and are one of 20 teams that advanced directly to Sioux City, Iowa, where pool play will begin Nov. 27. The four-team pools will be revealed Sunday upon the conclusion of the 12 Opening Round matches across the country.
The CCC’s College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon will also be at the final site. Corban will host an Opening Round match Saturday against Xavier (La.).
The national tournament appearance is SOU’s 10 all-time. The Raiders’ last was in 2015, when they defeated La Sierra (Calif.) in the Opening Round and went 1-2 in pool play.
RAIDER TRIO VOTED CCC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Southern Oregon University volleyball team swept Monday’s Cascade Conference Red Lion Player of the Week awards after winning the CCC Tournament championship over the weekend, with Hannah Bogatin, Makayla Hoyt and Taylor Ristvedt earning kudos.
Bogatin, a junior and half of SOU’s two-setter system, was voted the CCC Setter of the Week. She recorded a match-high 31 assists over four sets in the title match against Eastern Oregon, helping the Raiders attack at a .225 clip against the conference’s top defensive team.
Hoyt, a sophomore middle, was voted the CCC Defender of the Week. In Friday’s semifinal sweep of Corban, she had a career-high five solo blocks and seven total. A night later, she was in on four more.
Ristvedt earned the CCC Attacker of the Week award after taking the regular-season Player of the Year trophy last week. She combined for 24 kills in the two matches with just five errors. Sixteen of those were recorded against EOU, including seven in the tournament-clinching set.
SOUTHERN OREGON 72, UC MERCED 49: At Merced, Calif., freshman point guard Kalei Iwami sparked Southern Oregon off the bench with 14 points and the 12th-ranked Raiders limited UC Merced to 30-percent shooting in a win at Hostetler Court.
Iwami knocked down 4-of-7 attempts from 3-point range. Daranda Hinkey (10 points) and Delaney Sparling (7) both hit two from beyond the arc in a well-rounded performance.
SOU (2-0) shot 42 percent for the game but made 20-of-40 attempts in the second half, outscoring the Bobcats (3-2) 45-28, as senior forward Ariel Augustine heated up to finish with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Raiders also helped themselves with 20 offensive rebounds for a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points. Five of those came from Kenadee Honaker, who tallied six points, eight boards, three assists and a pair of steals. Syd Fryer chipped in six points and five assists and Destinee Jones had seven points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
UC Merced, which connected on just six field goals in the first half, was led by Aubrey Hayes’ 15 points. The Bobcats, who were coming off an 83-76 defeat of Oregon Tech, totaled only one more make (17) than turnovers (16).
SOU has won 17 consecutive non-conference regular-season games dating back to the 2016-17 season.
The Raiders will be in Klamath Falls on Friday and Saturday for the Lithia-Oregon Tech Classic, facing Antelope Valley (Calif.) and Simpson (Calif.). Both games tip off at 1 p.m.