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Jimmies fall to Raiders at nationals

University of Jamestown's Julina Niemeier, left, and Sydney Ellingson prepare to defend a Southern Oregon attack Tuesday, Nov. 27, during NAIA national championship pool play at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Sean Johnson / For The Sun

University of Jamestown women's volleyball coach Jon Hegerle expected more from his team Tuesday, Nov. 27, in Sioux City, Iowa.

Facing the the country's 10th-ranked team, the Jimmies were slow from the chute to open NAIA national championship pool play at Tyson Events Center. Southern Oregon took an early lead in each set of a 3-0 sweep of Jamestown.

The 24th-ranked Jimmies will attempt to bounce back Wednesday against seventh-ranked Viterbo (Wisc.) at 2 p.m.

"(Southern Oregon) didn't make many errors, and part of that was we weren't in system and we were giving them easy balls," Hegerle said. "We certainly didn't feel good with the way we performed. We're a much better team than what we showed today."

The Raiders (27-3) landed a haymaker to start set 1, connecting for a perfect seven kills on seven attacking attempts to stake a 10-2 lead. Southern Oregon entered the match fifth in the NAIA in hitting percentage at .284 and wound up hitting .366 against the Jimmies.

The Raiders won the first 25-15 behind five of Taylor Ristvedt's match-high 13 kills, and claimed the second frame 25-18 after an early 6-1 run had Southern Oregon leading 7-4. The Jimmies' Britta Knudson scored two of her six kills to help UJ lead 3-1 at the start, but once the Raiders took command they'd lead by as many as seven down the stretch.

Along with the 6-foot-2 Ristvedt, Southern Oregon's Elliot Cook, Makayla Hoyt and Malie Rube were tough for the Jimmies to contain. Cook and Hoyt finished with eight kills and five total blocks each, while Rube connected for seven kills. Rube is the only athlete of the four listed under 6-1.

"When you let a good offensive team get into their rhythm, it's tough to get them out of their rhythm," Hegerle said. "They can put a lot of pressure on you, and that was not the plan. The plan was to get them off balance right way and keep them off balance."

Jamestown's best effort came in the third, hitting .256 in a match they'd finish swinging .168. Junior right-side hitter Isabel Wedell scored eight of her team-high 11 kills as the Jimmies clawed out of a 10-3 deficit to trail 24-23. But Ristvedt ended the match 25-23 with her 13th kill of the contest.

Freshman setter Jackie Meiklejohn assisted Wedell on seven of her eight kills of the final frame. Meiklejohn finished with 15 assists, while junior setter Miranda Lowman led Jamestown with 17 assists.

"I thought our setters made smarter choices—who they are setting and where they are setting them—in the third," Hegerle said. "We used Isabel more on the right side in the third and (Southern Oregon) had trouble with that. I was proud of how we battled and had a chance at the end of set 3."

Similar choices should prove to be paramount again tomorrow against the V-Hawks (30-6). Viterbo's 6-4 middle Lydia Xu, from Shanghai, China, ranks third in the NAIA in hitting percentage (.431), while 6-3 middle Aubrey Aspen is inside the nation's top 20 in blocking and hitting.

The V-Hawks, champions of the North Star Athletic Association, topped Saint Xavier (Ill.) 3-1 in pool play Tuesday. The Jimmies are 1-11 against Viterbo since 2011.

"I didn't think we did a very good job of stopping Southern Oregon's middles and Viterbo uses their middles a lot, too," Hegerle said. "We just have to be more determined to impose our will on another team. You could tell it looked like there were some nerves to begin with, and we weren't comfortable right away.

"It's something we need to get better at."

Jamestown (22-9) will finish pool play facing Saint Xavier (28-10) at 2 p.m. on Thursday. The top two teams from each of the eight, four-team pools in competition will advance to the elimination round of 16 beginning Nov. 30.

NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship Pool Play

At Sioux City, Iowa

(10) Southern Oregon 3, (24) Jamestown 0

SO 25 25 25

UJ 15 18 23

SO—Kills: Taylor Ristvedt 13, Elliott Cook 8, Makayla Hoyt 8, Malie Rube 7, Nila Lukens 4, Maddie Pernich 4, Kiley Barcroft, Natalie James. Assists: James 22, Hannah Bogatin 10, Ristvedt 2, Sara Fanger 2. Aces: James, Bogatin, Barcroft. Digs: Emam Ryan 13, James 10, Barcroft 5, Fanger 4, Bogatin 4, Rube 2. Blocks: Cook 5, Hoyt 5, Lukens 2, Ristvedt 2, Pernich 2, Dani Johnson, Rube.

UJ—Kills: Isabel Wedell 11, Britta Knudson 6, Corina Ruud 6, Kennedy Conzemius 5, Jordan Thomas 3, Jayla Ritter 3, Ellie Michaletz 2, Anna Holen, Kori Buchanan, Miranda Lowman. Assists: Lowman 19, Jackie Meiklejohn 15, Julina Niemeier. Aces: Buchanan. Digs: Niemeier 15, Holen 7, Lowman 4, Sydney Ellingson 3, Meiklejohn, Thomas. Blocks: Knudson 4, Ruud 3, Ritter 2, Conzemius, Holen, Wedell, Michaletz.

Records: Southern Oregon 27-3. Jamestown 22-9.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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