EUGENE — The Cascade Conference volleyball title is back in Southern Oregon’s possession, and the CCC Championships are returning to Ashland.
The 10th-ranked Raiders became co-champions Saturday at the Morse Event Center, steering free of drama with a 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 thumping of Northwest Christian on the final night of the regular season.
They improved to 24-3 overall and 17-3 in the CCC, earning a share of the crown for the first time since 2014 with Eastern Oregon. Because the Raiders won both head-to-head matchups against EOU, the tiebreaker swung in their favor — giving them the conference’s first automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament, along with hosting rights for the last two rounds of the CCC Tournament.
The Raiders will play a semifinal opponent yet to be determined at 7 p.m. Friday inside Lithia Motors Pavilion, following the first semifinal match at 3:30 p.m. The championship match will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Beacons (12-17, 5-15) became SOU’s 18th straight-set victim of the season. Sophomore middle Makayla Hoyt paved with way with 12 kills on 22 swings in addition to three blocks, while Dani Johnson (9 kills) and Elliott Cook (7) combined for 16 kills without an error.
The sailing was smooth after the first set, where SOU had to work out of an 18-17 hole. After a service error tied it, reserve Maddie Pernich stepped up with her biggest sequence of the season, slamming down two kills in a row and following those with a solo block to key a 5-0 run. Pernich finished with seven kills.
The Raiders wound up hitting .358, getting 20 assists from Hannah Bogatin and 19 from Natalie James. Emma Ryan (12 digs) and Kiley Barcroft (11) helped keep the Beacons at a .209 average.
The clincher occurred on the heels of an emotional Friday night. After SOU was swept at Corban, EOU appeared on its way to claiming the title outright with a 2-0 sets lead over College of Idaho. But C of I stormed back on the Mountaineers’ home court, forcing a tiebreaker and winning it by a 16-14 score.
That opened the door for the Raiders to step in. They’ve won five titles since Josh Rohlfing took over in 2007 and will serve as the CCC Tournament final-site host for the first time since 2010.
Women’s Cross Country
CASCADE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Issaquah, Washington, for the first time since 2014, the Southern Oregon University women’s cross country team cracked the top-two in the team standings Saturday at the Cascade Conference Championships.
Oregon Tech, ranked fourth in the NAIA, defended its title by producing the first three finishers and totaling 29 points. But the eighth-ranked Raiders accumulated just 54 to easily beat out No. 13 College of Idaho (86 points) and No. 19 Northwest Christian (94), ensuring an at-large spot at the NAIA Championship meet in two weeks.
Jenna Storms repeated as an All-CCC performer, taking fifth place and finishing the 5,000-meter course at Lake Sammamish State Park in 18 minutes 6.4 seconds to outdo her eighth-place showing of a year ago. Sophomore Ariana Toland joined her in the all-conference circle, capturing sixth place in 18:11.9.
“Storms and Toland were really solid,” SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said.
SOU’s other three scorers finished within three seconds of each other: 13th-place Kayle Blackmore (18:27.6), 14th-place Bree Weber (18:29.3) and 16th-place Sydnee Kizziar (18:30.4).
Champion Cindy Reed (17:38.5), Susie Garza (17:40.5) and Danielle de Castro (17:56.1) led OIT, which put all five of its scorers in the top-12.
SOU’s average time of 18:21.1 was 21 seconds behind the Owls but 15 better than College of Idaho’s.
Lauren Fillipow (18:39.0) checked in with a 19th-place finish, Shayla Potratz (19:00.4) was 25th, Madison Willhoft (19:05.7) 27th and MJ Hamilton (19:08.2) 29th out of 74 total runners.
The NAIA Championships will be held Nov. 16 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The complete field will be announced next week.
Men’s Cross Country
CASCADE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Issaquah, Washington, fourth-ranked College of Idaho ended Southern Oregon’s run of consecutive Cascade Conference titles at 10 on Saturday, relegating the third-ranked Raiders to second place in the CCC Championships at Lake Sammamish State Park.
Runner-up Noah Oberriter, fourth-place Brandon Kelsey and 12th-place Kalen Yeager each attained All-CCC status — Oberriter for the third year in a row — but it wasn’t enough to slow down the Yotes, who won with 26 points to SOU’s 46 behind individual champion Marcos Cervantes.
Cervantes ran the 8,000-meter race in 24 minutes 59.9 seconds, beating Oberriter’s time (25:01.0) by 1.1 ticks. Kelsey, a junior who placed 25th last season, shot up to fourth place in 25:03.4. Yeager, one of three freshmen running for the Raiders, finished in 25:37.2, and sophomore Kevin VanDyke (25:41.8) just missed out on All-CCC status behind him in 13th place.
“We ran well but just got beat by a better team,” SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said. “Kelsey and Oberriter ran really tough the whole way.”
SOU’s final scorer was 15th-place Gabe Loader (25:42.3). In 16th and 18th place, Ryan Alexander (25:48.1) and Deklan Humble (25:58.8) weren’t far behind.
College of Idaho produced the first-, third-, fifth-, seventh- and 10th-place finishers, and its sixth finisher was All-CCC without contributing to the team score.
The Yotes had an average time of 25:15.5 compared to SOU’s 25:25.1.
Eastern Oregon was well behind in third place with 85 points and fourth-place Northwest Christian accumulated 113.
SOU will be at the NAIA Championships with an at-large bid in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Nov. 16. The complete field will be announced next week.
SOUTHERN OREGON 86, ARIZONA CHRISTIAN 77: At Phoenix, Arizona, Callum Lawson’s 30 points and 12 rebounds were too much for cold-shooting Southern Oregon to overcome in a loss to Arizona Christian on Saturday at the Fultz Memorial Classic.
Lawson shot 10-of-15 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and the Firestorm (2-0) collectively went 8-of-17 from deep and 28-of-35 at the line.
The Raiders (4-1), led by Jordan Hunt’s 20 points and nine rebounds, went just 7-of-32 downtown. They misfired on 15 of their 18 attempts in the second half.
They got a boost from a pair of freshman to stay in it, as Kiefer Edwards scored all 10 of his points in the first half and Teron Bradford notched 10 of his 12 in the second. Six straight points from Hunt cut the deficit to seven before Lawson stretched it back out by drilling a 3 in the corner with two minutes left.
Aaron Borich chipped in eight points, hitting all six of his free-throw attempts.
The Raiders are off until their home debut, Nov. 13 against New Hope Christian.