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Raider Notebook

Southern harriers rated No. — in nation

The Southern Oregon University cross country season doesn&

t begin until Sept. 17, but the 2005 Raider men&

s program has already made program history.

After placing 12th at the 2004 NAIA Championships and snaring the program&

s first-ever Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I titles, SOU received its highest ranking ever in the 2005 preseason poll &

No. 3.

Under the guidance of seventh-year coach and brilliant recruiter Grier Gatlin, the Raider men return six letterwinners from last year&

s team, including all-stars Trevor Palmer and Ryan Pfeil as well as local products J.J. Moses (Crater High) and Kyle Gillette (Phoenix).

The lofty ranking is among the highest ever received by a Raider men&

s team. Only the SOU wrestling (No. — in 1995) and football (No. 2 in 2003) have received higher perches in national polls.

Southern joins perennial Region I powers Simon Fraser (No. 9) and Eastern Oregon (No.17) as well as conference neophyte Albertson (No. 24) in the preseason rating.

Volleyball

Off to its best start since 1997, the Southern Oregon University volleyball team hopes to build on its early season momentum in what will be one of the most challenging weeks in program history.

The hectic six-match, five-day schedule stretch starts tonight when the 11th-ranked Raiders (4-0) host 19th-ranked Savannah College of Art Design (2-2) in a titanic clash between defending NAIA regional champions.

Southern then heads to the Willamette Valley for a Thursday date against the University of Oregon in Eugene followed by the Holiday Inn Classic hosted by Concordia University Friday and Saturday in Portland.

The eight-team weekend tourney features a Friday encounter against top-ranked and defending national champion California Baptist as well as perennial small-college power Lubbock Christian.

The six matches are the final tune-ups prior to the start of Cascade Conference play on Sept. 7.

The two-time conference and four-time Region I champion Raiders put their 19-match home-court win streak on the line against SCAD. The Region XIV champion makes its first-ever visit to Oregon. SOU hasn&

t dropped a home tilt since Oct. 18, 2003.

McNeal Pavilion is the second destination on Savannah College of Art Design&

s eight-day West Coast tour.

The Bees, who posted a 22-7 record and qualified for the NAIA Championships for the first time in the program&

s 10-year history in 2004, went 2-2 against nationally ranked teams at the Fresno Pacific Sunbird Classic last weekend. SCAD fell to No. 5 Concordia, Calif. in three games followed by a four-game setback to No. — Cal Baptist on Friday, but the Bees stung No. 24 Biola, Calif. (in five) and No. 17 Azusa Pacific (in three) the following day.

The Georgia school, which competed in the NCAA Division III ranks until 2003, was led by sophomore hitter Cristina Payne, who amassed 45 kills and 29 digs in 15 games.

According to Raider coach Paul Elliott, the Raiders will not see one of the SCAD&

s top players, six-foot senior middle Frida Sigurdardottir, who is representing her native Iceland at an international tournament in Brazil.

The unlikely volleyball bed fellows are already well-acquainted. Southern swatted away the Bees by a 30-19, 24-30, 30-26, 30-18 count on Aug. 28, 2004 at the Fresno Pacific tourney despite 10-kill efforts from Emily Bumby and Cameron Goldsmith.

Jaclyn Hamilton-Smith had the first of her several career-best outings with 12 winners for SOU in the defensive struggle, and Kristen Lilly posted 26 digs.

Both SOU and SCAD are competing in this weekend&

s Holiday Inn Invitational this weekend in Portland.