ASHLAND — Five student-athletes have signed on to join the Southern Oregon University volleyball team for the upcoming season, head coach Josh Rohlfing announced Monday, strengthening an already-deep roster that was devoid of seniors last fall.
The additions include three transfers: outside hitter/libero Paula Carvalho, via Tyler Junior College (Texas); libero/defensive specialist Sara Fanger, via Linn-Benton Community College; and middle/right-side hitter Maddie Pernich, via Mt. Hood Community College. True freshmen-to-be Chanel Groom, a middle/hitter from South Medford High, and Ella Ristvedt, a libero/DS from Cleveland High, round out the class.
“This is a very talented, dynamic group and it fits what we’re always aiming for here,” said Rohlfing, entering his 12th season at SOU. “They’re all highly-decorated academically and contribute off the court in their communities, and I’m just really excited to see what they bring to our team.”
The signees are listed alphabetically below:
PAULA CARVALHO, 5-7, OH/L, TYLER C.C. (TEXAS): Carvalho will come to SOU as a junior after spending the last two seasons at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. She averaged over two kills per set as a freshman in 2016, but her court time as a sophomore was limited by injury. She’ll be the second Brazilian to play for the Raiders during Rohlfing’s tenure, following Paulla Pinheiro (2014-15), who also arrived via a Texas junior college.
Rohlfing on Carvalho: “Paula comes to us with a ton of experience and a variety of skills. What struck us most about her is ball-control ability that is unparalleled with most players at this level. We felt like her energy and competitiveness combined with that was a piece we really needed.”
SARA FANGER, 5-7, L/DS, LINN-BENTON C.C.: As a sophomore at Linn-Benton, Fanger was among the Northwest Athletic Conference leaders at 4.5 digs per set and was an All-NWAC South Region second-team selection. She was part of a Roadrunners team that advanced to the NWAC Championships final in her first season, and she was named to the All-Tournament first team after they placed fourth in her second trip. She graduated in 2016 from Tualatin High, where she was a three-time all-league selection.
Rohlfing on Fanger: “One of the key things we were looking for with this class were strong voices — a dynamic group of people in terms of how they communicate on the court — and Sara epitomized that. When she came to visit, we were blown away by how she fit and her ability to speak up. She comes from a program we’ve gotten great athletes from in the past and she should be ready to compete for a starting position.”
CHANEL GROOM, 6-0, MB/OH/Opp., SOUTH MEDFORD HIGH: With the Raiders, Rohlfing says Groom will be able to play in the middle, on the outside or at opposite hitter. At South Medford, she landed on the All-Southwest Conference first team as a senior and second team as a junior, and was also a three-year captain for the Panthers.
Rohlfing on Groom: “I’ve known Chanel from the time she started attending our camps in middle school and just appreciate what she and her family are about and how they’ve supported the program over the years. She was one of the top players in southern Oregon last season and bringing her in was a no-brainer. It’ll be exciting to watch her progress.”
MADDIE PERNICH, 6-0, MB/RS, MT. HOOD C.C.: During the 2017 season for Mt. Hood, Pernich attacked at a .390 average — making her the most efficient hitter in the Northwest Athletic Conference — and posted 2.5 kills per set, earning first team All-NWAC Southern Region accolades. She was twice a player-of-the-week selection, including once after totaling 17 kills on 20 attacks without an error against Yakima Valley. The 2015 Barlow High graduate will join the Raiders with sophomore eligibility.
Rohlfing on Pernich: “Maddie is another one of those athletes who is a phenomenal communicator and just sets the tone with her voice and presence on the court. That struck us the most, but she’s also extremely skilled and is going to be great for us offensively. It’s great to get her for the next three years as a transfer, and she’s going to compete for a starting spot right away.”
ELLA RISTVEDT, 5-6, L/DS, CLEVELAND HIGH: Ristvedt is set to be reunited on the court with her sister Taylor, who was the Raiders’ top hitter in 2017. She’ll occupy a different space, having earned first-team all-conference recognition as a libero her last three seasons at Cleveland High. She helped the Warriors to four postseason appearances, was a two-year captain and as a senior received honorable mention all-state kudos. A third Ristvedt sister, Kylie (Ella’s twin), has signed on to play at University of Portland.
Rohlfing on Ristvedt: “Ella was, in my opinion, the top libero in the state. I’ve had the opportunity to coach her over the years through camps and she has a chance to be an unbelievable contributor during her career here. She’s capable of finding early playing time and being an important piece to a championship-caliber team.”