The Southern Oregon University volleyball team will have something to prove to itself when it hosts the Paul Elliott Invitational on Thursday and Friday.
Four straight losses against top 25-ranked opponents to start the season at last week's Biola Invitational by no means demoralized the Raiders. But it did make them all the more anxious to continue to work out the kinks on familiar ground.
The Raiders will make their Bob Riehm Arena debut at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against Simpson (0-1 overall) and play at 7 p.m. against Menlo (0-0). They'll wrap up the fourth edition of the five-team tournament at 6 p.m. Friday with a date with Lewis-Clark State (1-3).
"It's a fun time of year because it's all just about growth," Raiders coach Josh Rohlfing said. "There were moments (at Biola) where, if we would've strung together some consistency, we could've pushed some people. That's what makes us excited — to see if we've narrowed down some of those inconsistencies."
Rohlfing's Raiders had little to be ashamed about in falling to the Nos. 1, 4, 16 and 18 teams in the NAIA. And the level of competition made the performance of senior libero Renee Yomtob especially impressive as she averaged 5.3 digs per set.
Senior hitters Liz Madden and Mona Goudarzian led the Raider attack, averaging 2.1 and 1.9 kills per set, respectively, but a team hitting average of .059 left a little to be desired.
"We solidified some things we were concerned about going in," Rohlfing said. "That core group can lead us and we're seeing some flashes of brilliance from the younger players."
Freshman setter Lauren McGowne had an impressive start to her collegiate career, posting 4.2 assists per set, and junior Sam Boehnke was SOU's biggest presence at the net with 12 total blocks.
The tournament begins at 10 a.m. Thursday with a matchup between Lewis-Clark State and Simpson, followed by Northwest vs. Menlo at noon, SOU vs. Simpson, Lewis-Clark State vs. Northwest at 5 p.m. and SOU vs. Menlo.
Friday's action includes Lewis-Clark State vs. Menlo at noon, Northwest vs. Simpson at 3 p.m. and SOU vs. Lewis-Clark State at 6 p.m.
Elliott, for whom the tournament is named, left SOU in 2006 as the winningest coach in school history (381) and in Cascade Conference history (175). He now serves as the athletic director and volleyball coach at Santa Catalina School in Monterey, Calif.
Links to live streaming video as well as live stats will be available at souraiders.com.