ASHLAND, Ore--- If you stepped inside the Lithia Motors Pavilion on Wednesday night in Ashland, you were witness to an instant classic. Both 2021 editions of the "Clash in the Cascades" rivalry went to Oregon Tech, after Tech completed a season sweep of SOU for the first time since 1986.
Oregon Tech (13-4, 9-3 CCC) beat Southern Oregon (9-8, 4-8 CCC) in a five-set thriller by scores of 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 23-25, 15-10.
It was a match that never felt like any team controlled it. SOU and OIT went point for point in every set, and even went to extra points in the 3rd.
Both teams hit incredibly. Tech finished with a .297 and Southern Oregon hit .199.
For Tech, Nicole Reyes was dominate. Reyes finished with 16 kills including the final two to put the nail in the coffin.
"End of the game, 5th set. It was going to go quick because it only goes to 15," said Reyes. "My ideology was "I need to just swing as hard as I can... Just go all out."
That is a philosophy head coach Ken Murczek is known for.
"She's listening," said Murczek. "You know, we talk a lot about... I am okay with us not being successful as long we are aggressive. You know, if you miss at least you went down swinging. But hey, if you get a ball in your window, you got to go after it."
Both teams even committed their fair share of mistakes that nearly gifted the game to the opposition.
Oregon Tech committed 20 service errors and SOU had nine. Many times, those errors came in crucial moments near the end of sets.
Besides Reyes, Oregon Tech had several players be key contributors. Faith Houck-Wylie also earned 16 kills while hitting .351. Kaylin Talonen put away 15 kills while hitting .361.
Southern Oregon was led by the incredible play of Simone Gordon who had a game-high 19 kills. She also hit .459 through the entire match.
Hailey Van Well finished with 16 kills while hitting .163.
Shelby Young had 13 kills while hitting .188.
Oregon Tech has solidified itself into 4th place in the Cascade Conference standings. The Owls trail Corban (17-0, 11-0 CCC), Eastern Oregon (15-4, 10-1 CCC), and Bushnell (13-2, 9-2 CCC).
Southern Oregon has seen a dramatic conference skid since its hot non-conference start. SOU is now in 9th place in the CCC and must finish 6th or better to make the post season.