Southern Oregon did its best to postpone 10th-ranked Corban’s celebration Friday night, but the Warriors erased a 2-0 sets deficit to clinch the outright Cascade Conference regular-season title and an automatic NAIA Championships bid with a 22-25, 14-25, 25-18, 25-13, 16-14 victory at Mountain Avenue Gym.
Warriors middle Alaina Gentili totaled 19 kills, and the senior All-American took over the match with 12 kills on 21 attacks and five blocks over the last three sets after the Raiders (15-9 overall, 12-7 CCC) controlled the first two.
Corban (21-7, 16-3) scored the last seven points in a lopsided fourth frame, but SOU reclaimed the momentum in rushing out to an 11-7 lead on a Natalie James ace in the fifth. It was 13-10 in SOU’s favor before the Warriors ran off four unanswered as Gentili put down a kill and Bethany Filipenko delivered three in a row. SOU right-side Taylor Ristvedt tied it at 14-all with a kill to stop the run.
Again, Filipenko capped a long rally with a kill, and on match point Adriana Aguayo smacked a ball down the line for the win. Filipenko finished with 12 kills on 15 attacks and no errors.
After winning six consecutive matches, the Raiders have lost back-to-back in five sets against ranked opponents. They’ll go into the CCC Tournament with the No. 5 or 6 seed depending on the outcome of today's 5 p.m. match against Northwest Christian, and play in the first round Tuesday night at either 13th-ranked Eastern Oregon or 21st-ranked Northwest (Wash.).
With the top seed, Corban will host the semifinal and championship matches next Friday and Saturday in Salem.
The loss spoiled several outstanding individual performances, including Ristvedt’s 16 kills, Malie Rube’s 14, Ashlyn Flynn’s 38 digs and Natalie James’ 42 assists. Freshman middle Deziree McKee, filling in at middle for injured starting freshman Makayla Hoyt, performed admirably with eight kills on 15 attacks and seven of SOU’s 10 blocks. Ariana Sattler assisted four blocks, and Emma Ryan added 12 digs.
For the Warriors, All-American outside hitter Amber Parker tallied 16 kills and 12 digs, Haley Wells had 22 digs and Madison Milligan went for 36 assists and nine digs. After attacking at an average of .111 over the first two sets, they hit .371 the rest of the way.
The CCC title marks their first since of the regular-season variety in team history.