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Larry Stauth Jr./For the Daily Tidings
Southern Oregon University head volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing and the Raiders open the season ranked 13th nationally.

SOU volleyball opens season ranked 13th nationally

In Tuesday’s preseason edition of the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, the Southern Oregon women’s volleyball team debuted at No. 13 — marking its first time in the rankings since the 2016 preseason, and its highest position since finishing 2015 in the same spot.

The Raiders are ranked higher than any team that finished outside of last year’s final Top 25, and are joined by four other CCC squads: No. 7 College of Idaho, No. 15 Eastern Oregon, No. 19 Corban and No. 24 Northwest (Wash.). In the CCC preseason poll, SOU and Eastern Oregon tied for second behind College of Idaho, the defending conference tournament champion, which collected eight of 10 first-place votes. Corban, last year’s regular-season champ, was picked fourth.

The Raiders will open their season today at the William Jessup Invitational in Rocklin, Calif., against three teams from the California Pacific Conference — Antelope Valley (9 a.m. today), Simpson (3 p.m. today) and Pacific Union (11 a.m. Thursday) — and are slated to end their stay against the hosts from the Golden State Athletic Conference, WJU (5 p.m. Thursday).

Southern Oregon will do the grand-opening honors at Lithia Motors Pavilion on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. against Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), which marks the beginning of a three-day, six-team invitational. It’ll be the first time the Raiders have played home matches prior to their conference schedule since 2013.

College Cross Country

In terms of expectations, the Southern Oregon University cross country teams will find themselves in familiar positions entering the new season.

The Raider men are the favorites to win an 11th consecutive Cascade Conference championship, according to a preseason coaches' poll released Monday by the league office. The Raider women are picked third, which is right where they finished in 2017.

The Cascade was the highest-performing conference on both sides at last year's NAIA national meet: Four of the top-11 men's teams represented the CCC, as well as four of the top-16 women's teams.

The Raider men will be following up a fourth-place national finish that was preceded by another dominant showing at the CCC Championships. They've been among the top four in nine of the last 10 seasons. Noah Oberriter, now a senior, is their top returning finisher after placing 16th last season to attain All-America status.

SOU received seven of nine first-place votes. College of Idaho picked up the other two and tied with Eastern Oregon for No. 2 in the poll ahead of Oregon Tech.

OIT won its first-ever CCC women's title last season and is picked to win another with six first-place votes. College of Idaho is No. 2 in the poll, having received the other three first-place votes, and SOU is third ahead of Corban.

The Raiders will return five of their top-six scorers from the conference meet — the exception being Jessa Perkinson, the CCC individual champion and national runner-up. SOU finished 15th in last year's NAIA team standings.

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