Eastern Oregon outside hitter Amanda Miller stopped Southern Oregon time and again from getting over the hump Friday night in the Cascade Collegiate Conference opener for both teams at Mountain Avenue Gym.
Behind Miller's 16 kills on 28 attacks, the 11th-ranked Mountaineers started their title defense with a 25-23, 27-25, 25-17 win over the Raiders, their third in a row in Ashland. They improved to 7-3 overall, while SOU dropped to 2-3 going into today's 5 p.m. match against No. 25 College of Idaho.
Miller put down six of those kills in a tight first set that was tied at 20-all after SOU hitter Ariana Sattler's kill that capped a 5-1 spurt. EOU regained control by winning the next three points on Hailee Ackerman and Sarah Carpenter kills and a Kiley McMurtrey ace.
In the second, the Mountaineers fought off set point three time — at 24-22, when an SOU error and a Miller kill evened the score, then at 25-24, when Miller delivered another equalizer. Emily Nay's block and a Miller ace ended the set, and EOU never trailed in a tidy third frame.
For the match, EOU hit .297 with 12 blocks — led by Madisen Garlie's eight — and a sideout percentage of 68. The Raiders hit .193.
Redshirt-freshman middle Makayla Hoyt's 11 kills on 19 tries and three assisted blocks led SOU. Taylor Ristvedt went for 10 kills, Elliott Cook had nine, Ashlyn Flynn collected 21 digs, and Hannah Bogatin and Natalie James recorded 21 assists each.
Sarah Carpenter totaled 20 assists and Madison Pilon 19 in the Mountaineers' two-setter system. Holli Mullins picked up 12 digs, while Ackerman and Garlie had eight and seven blocks, respectively.
EOU, which is vying for its fourth straight CCC regular-season title, has dropped just three conference road matches since the start of 2015.
At San Rafael, California, Southern Oregon's early-season struggles to find its footing continued Friday in a 3-0 loss to Dominican University (Calif.) on a scorching-hot afternoon at Kennelly Field.
Colin Gunby, Austen McGregor and Luke Raley scored courtesy of Matt Case, Tanner Herrero and Damian Cortez assists as the Penguins, members of the NCAA Division II Pacwest Conference, opened their season by dropping the Raiders to 0-3.
SOU has been shut out twice during a difficult preseason after avoiding that fate through the entirety of the 2016 regular season.
There were no major discrepancies in shots (14-10) or shots on goal (8-4) but, notably, Raider forwards Brendan Allen and Carlos Magana were both held without a shot in 100 combined minutes on the field. Sean McManamon's three strikes, two of which went on goal, led the team.
Dominican's Christian Lathrop picked up the shutout, collecting three of his four saves in the first half.
Gunby broke a scoreless tie in the 41st minute with a header, and less than four minutes into the second half McGregor made it 2-0 with another header from the middle of the box. Raley's goal capped the scoring in the 70th minute.
The Raiders will have to wait a week for another shot at their first win, playing at Bethesda (Calif.) on Sept. 8 and ninth-ranked Marymount (Calif.) on Sept. 9.
Originallly scheduled for Friday, Ashland High School's season opener at Klamath Union has been moved to today and will be played at Lakeview High School. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
The move was made Friday as smoky conditions from area wildfires continued to diminish the air quality in southern Oregon.