By Jocelyn Burgess.
Left to right: Emily Stone, Lindsay Stone, Katie Pluchos, Mia Wortel and Samantha Yutzie celebrate Saturday night.
The 10th-ranked Southern Oregon Raider Volleyball team had a hall of fame night Friday.
On the eve of homecoming and immediately following the SOU Alumni and Hall of Fame social, the Raiders handled the Warriors of Corban College 3-0 to win their 19th straight match. The previous record of 18 straight wins was held by the 2005 Raider squad, who finished that season ranked 12th in the nation.
Corban did challenge Southern in the first game with the lead bouncing from team to team early on. Then the Raiders established a three-point lead of 14-11 and never looked back, at one point leading 24-16. The Warriors made a push near the end but gave up the team point on a long serve to give SOU the win 30-25.
Corban came out strong early in the second game by establishing a small 4-2 lead. The lead was then abruptly stomped out by Shanna Claflin's monster kill to tie it up 5-all. SOU then picked up steam and scored five unanswered points en route to a 12-3 run to take control of the game. Claflin added another unforgiving kill during the run that ricocheted off the head of an unsuspecting Corban defender. The second game seemed to be all Claflin as she recorded an Ace to make it 21-10 Raiders. SOU won the match via a Mia Wortel block, 30-17.
During the intermission, perennial pizza powerhouse Giseppi's sponsored yet another pizza giveaway that had contestants serving volleyballs at propped-up pizza boxes for a chance to win the coveted free pizza.
After all the festivities, SOU came out strong again. After establishing their lead at 7-6, Samantha Yutzie started a rally with her commanding kill that lead to eight unanswered Raider points. This match was lopsided from the beginning. The Raiders had the lead by as much as 12 points, 21-9. Another impressive Yutzie kill bumped the score up 25-14 bringing the Raiders within five points of their historic win. Lindsey Stone's kill nudged the team closer as well and set the stage for the victory. In front of a packed house, senior Jaclyn Hamilton-Smith scored the deciding point to make it 30-17 Raiders; their 19th win in a row.
The win appropriately fell on the night the fans paid tribute during pre-game ceremonies to their five monumental seniors: Shanna Claflin #13, Molly Grossman #11, Jaclyn Hamilton-Smith #12, Richelle Millsap #8, and Whitney Riehl #1.
Throughout the game SOU looked like a team poised for greatness. The Raiders outplayed the Warriors. It seemed as if every volley ended in points for SOU. The team was sharp and looks to be prepared for a conference and possibly national championship in these next few weeks.