Home»Feature»A Tale of Two Volleyball Teams: The RCC Ospreys and the SOU Raiders are Putting the Rogue Valley on the Map

A Tale of Two Volleyball Teams: The RCC Ospreys and the SOU Raiders are Putting the Rogue Valley on the Map

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SOU Volleyball. Photo by Al Case, Ashland Daily Photo

In their inaugural season, Rogue Community College Ospreys has stormed into their first women’s volleyball season with a rocking 18-1 record. And, the powerhouse that is Lady Raiders volleyball boasts an impressive 17-3 overall record so far this season, hearkening memories of last season where Southern Oregon was first in the Cascade Collegiate Conference. We caught up with head coaches Christine Nelson (RCC Ospreys) and Josh Rohlfing (SOU Raiders) to hear about their secrets to success, and how they are keeping their opponents shaking in their kneepads.

RVM: You have over 20 years of experience coaching volleyball and basketball; what stands out to you about the Ospreys, and how was this first lineup recruited? 

Christine Nelson: This group keeps surprising me. More than anything, they have all bought in, so we are all going in the same direction. They play with an intensity and passion and fun. They are smiling. They are excited. Our big thing at the beginning wasn’t to keep a legacy going or restart, but this was a chance to make a legacy, so people would say, “they were on the first team.”

We don’t talk about winning at all; we talk about being committed to process, and letting the outcome take care of itself. This team has been able to do that. 

RVM: What do you see for the future of the sport at RCC in coming years?

CN: We thought we would be the underdogs because it was our first year. Somehow that turned into wins. They take school very seriously, and they are very humble. It has been about self-respect, and having respect for our opponents. 

There’s a fine line between cocky and confident. I can see them playing confidently now. We know that we have to keep playing well. We’re not the underdog anymore. You have to stay humble and stay true to what got you there.

I can’t even tell you the future. Right now, we have 12 freshmen. It is awesome to be where we are, and it is a little daunting that we started out so well our first year. You have to keep working to keep it at that same pace. 

RVM: How is the balance of the team this year as far as player age and experience, and what do you see for the team in the coming years?

CN: The other part about community college is that it is only a two year program. Most teams have more of a split with sophomores and freshmen, but I did get two sophomores, and it is great to have that experience. But as for balance, I have twelve freshmen. It is different than four years; you have four years to develop. We are always looking to bring new players in, and trying to take the players to the next level. We would like more balance in the future. 

We have five local players on the team; we were very happy to get them. There is a lot of volleyball talent in the Valley. 

RVM: Your only loss this season has been to Southwestern Oregon, and you won’t go up against them until the very last home game in the regular season on November 12. What has the team been working on to prepare for that match up specifically?

CN: We don’t change; we are really big on playing the game that we play. We don’t change a lot of stuff for opponents. That game will be the fourth time that we play them. They played really great in the third game when we played them. They beat us. Our goal at the end of this season is getting better every day at the little things that we need to get better at. We will be a better team than when they saw us the first time; we will be improved. 

 

Ospreys vs. Clackamas
6:30 pm, Friday, October 25
Courthouse Family Fitness, 709 N. Phoenix Road, Medford

 

Ospreys vs. Chemeketa
6:30 pm, Saturday, October 26
Courthouse Family Fitness, 709 N. Phoenix Road, Medford

 

 

Rogue Valley Messenger: You have long been established in the Ashland volleyball scene, this being your 13th season with SOU and ten years with Ashland High School prior to that. What stands out to you about this year’s Raiders team? 

JR: This team is a group of caring, truly wonderful young adults. They are very engaged with our community, the university, and one another. You would be hard-pressed to find a more well rounded group. They want to be great.

RVM: What do you think is the team’s greatest triumph so far this season? 

JR: I believe that we’ve done a really good job of fighting through some pretty serious health issues with members of the team. We had a lot happen in a short amount of time and we rallied around and supported one another, while continuing to compete at the highest level of our sport. 

RVM: Greatest challenge? 

JR: Our greatest challenge this season has been consistency. We’ve found difficulty in playing well throughout entire matches. We can look pedestrian for stretches of matches and then turn around and look/feel like one of the top teams in the nation. Volleyball is such a momentum sport based on mental agility that consistency of play is largely based on the ability to reset mentally between points.

RVM: You are on the road until the end of the month, with your next home games on the 25th against 7th ranked Corban University. What specific skills is the team focusing on in preparation for the home turf? 

JR: We are working to evolve into being more consistent in how we prepare for practices and matches, in turn creating a focus that will allow us to compete against the best teams point for point. We need to sustain rallies and force our opponents into making mistakes. There is no doubt that we are incredibly talented. We have size and skill that is pretty unrivaled in our conference. Our improvements will happen from playing a more relentless brand of volleyball that keeps pressure on our opponents by limiting our mistakes.

 

Raiders vs. Northwest Christian
7 pm, Thursday, October 24
SOU, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

 

Raiders vs. Corban
7 pm, Friday, October 25
SOU, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

 

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