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Andy Atkinson / Daily Tidings
Southern Oregon University sophomore middle blocker Elliott Cook goes up for a kill during the Raiders’ home opener against Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) last month. SOU, ranked 10th nationally, faces winless Walla Walla tonight at 7 p.m. at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

Undefeated Raiders return home to face Walla Walla

A quick turnaround following a long trip is less likely to bother the Southern Oregon University volleyball team considering the roll it’s on going into tonight’s 7 p.m. match against Walla Walla.

The Raiders are 10-0 overall and 3-0 in the Cascade Conference ahead of their first-ever CCC match at Lithia Motors Pavilion, having knocked off Walla Walla, Eastern Oregon and The College of Idaho on consecutive nights last week. They’re also entering a stretch in which they’ll play eight of their next 11 matches at home.

The Wolves (0-3) come into the matchup having dropped 49 straight CCC contests and have yet to take a set off the Raiders in seven all-time meetings.

The Raiders got a three-spot bump in Tuesday’s first regular-season edition of the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, settling in at No. 10 as College of Idaho dropped seven spots to No. 14 and Eastern Oregon fell six spots to No. 21. The Raiders are among the top-10 for the first time in three years.

Since 2000, they’ve earned a top-10 ranking in seven separate seasons.

SOU is one of two teams in the entire NAIA with at least 10 wins and no losses — Northwestern Ohio is the other — and is among just five unbeaten teams in the Top 25. Only two Raider outfits have run off longer winning streaks to start a season: The 1991 team, which started 17-0, and the 2015 team, which won its first 15. Since Josh Rohlfing became the head coach in 2007, the Raiders have enjoyed eight different win streaks spanning at least 10 matches.

On Monday, junior right-side Taylor Ristvedt was voted the CCC’s attacker of the week for the second time this season and sophomore middle Makayla Hoyt earned the defensive player of the week award. The two are currently dominating the conference leaderboard and have company from their teammates:

  • SOU’s .287 attacking average is the ninth-best in the NAIA, and three Raiders are among top-six in the CCC individually: Hoyt (.408), Ristvedt (.374) and Elliott Cook (.345). Ristvedt is the Raiders’ top attacker at 3.2 kills per set, the No. 9 clip in the circuit.
  • Hoyt and Cook are also cleaning up in the blocks category, ranking first (1.15/set) and third (1.03/set), respectively, in the CCC. Earlier this season, Cook became the first Raider in four years to record 10 blocks in a match. In Saturday’s match at C of I, however, Hoyt one-upped her by tallying the highest block total (12) for a Raider in the last decade.
  • As a team, the Raiders are No. 6 in the NAIA in blocks per set (2.5) and No. 20 in assists per set (12.3).
  • Their opponents’ attacking average of .097 also leads the conference.

SOU’s back-to-back five-set wins at then-No. 15 EOU and then-No. 7 C of I marked its first regular-season sweep of that particular road swing since 2005. No other CCC team had pulled it off since. Before Corban won it last year, SOU, EOU and C of I had been responsible for the last 14 CCC regular-season titles.

After Thursday’s matchup with Walla Walla, the Raiders will travel to Klamath Falls on Tuesday in search of their 31st consecutive defeat of rival Oregon Tech. They’ll be home again next weekend, Sept. 14-15, to face Multnomah and Warner Pacific.

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