The Titans (19-16, 9-4) won set one, but lost sets two and three, then battled back to take the final two sets in a 3-2 win that secured the program's first playoff appearance since being reinstated in 2016.
How it happened: The Titans raced out to a 6-2 lead in the first set and forced Umpqua's first timeout leading 9-5. The Riverhawks would claim their first lead of the set at 13-12, but would have to use their final timeout down 20-18. The Titans would finish off the first set 25-21. In the set the Titans hit .150 with 14 kills and eight errors. The Riverhawks had their second worst hitting set, with a .114 mark and 10 kills with six errors.
The second set was going even better. The Riverhawks called their second timeout down 18-12 and the Titans playing good volleyball. The timeout by the Riverhawks worked for the first time. They would go on a 9-4 run to force the first Titan timeout with the lead down to one 22-21. Two points later the Riverhawks had the lead and the Titans took their final timeout now down for the first time since early in the first set. The set would go back and fourth, but the Riverhawks held the momentum and won 29-27. The Titans hit .118 and the Riverhawks hit a match high .140 with another match high 14 kills.
Now tied at a set a piece, the Titans wasted no time lingering on a lost set, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. The Riverhawks would again close the gap, but would use another timeout to try and regroup. The Titans didn't let the timeout slow them down and they coninued to play well and Umpqua called their final timeout, now down 18-13. This time, like the second timeout in the second set, the Riverhawks would make a final push. A 12-4 Riverhawk run would secure them a 2-1 advantage and force the Titans to win the final two set to secure a playoff spot and a tie for 2nd place. In the set the Titans hitting dropped to .116 and a match low 12 kills. Umpqua didn't hit much better, .128, but they did the little things during the points to make up for their deficiencies.
A must win set four saw another hot start from the Titans, and a comeback attempt by the Riverhawks. The Titans won five of the first six points, but was the first team to call a timeout in the set for the first time, tied at 10. This time the Titans made a closing run that was not interrupted by the two more timeouts by Umpqua, ending in the Titans favor 25-18. The Titans offense was at its best the entire match, hitting .321 with only three errors. The Riverhawks were solid, but not great at .133 with 10 kills.
The fifth set went the same way as the first four; they started hot, and only needing 15 points they finished off the match 15-10 victory. Umpqua used both of their timeouts for the fifth time and closed a seven point gap to three, but did themselves no favors by hitting a match low .100. The Titans hit over .300 again, .312, and only hurt themselves with one error.
What/who stood out: For the second match in a row for the Titans, their opponent used all or most of their timeouts, Umpqua used all 10 in comparison to the five used by the Titans. Seven out of 10 timeout by Umpqua resulted in the Riverhawks making a run. And three of five Titan timeouts were won afterwards by the Riverhawks. Stacia Panther had 26 digs and moved into 1st in the NWAC in total digs. Taylor Russell, team leader in assists, had a season high 34 assists. Hannah Hayes had six total block, two behind her season high. Hayes is now third in the NWAC in solo blocks. NWAC solo block leader Meagan Briggs had two blocks, one solo.
What it means: The Titans clinch their first playoff berth since reinstatment in 2016. They are T-2nd with Chemeketa. The Titans have a chance to have three players in the top-10 in solo blocks during the regular season, two top-10 hitting percentage players (Briggs and Hayes), and a top-10 team finish in kills, assists, serve aces, digs, solo blocks and total blocks.
What's next: Titans finish the regular season on the road at region leader Linn-Benton (28-10, 12-1) on Wednesday Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m.