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SOU No. 18 in preseason volleyball poll

The Southern Oregon University volleyball team was ranked No. 18 in the NAIA Top 25 preseason coaches' poll, released Tuesday.

Southern Oregon, which opens its season Thursday at the Biola Summer Slam in La Mirada, California, fell five spots from its 2015 postseason No. 13 ranking. Also from the Cascade Conference, Eastern Oregon was ranked No. 8 and College of Idaho No. 11.

Defending national champion Columbia, of Missouri, received all 21 first-place votes to enter the season No. 1, followed by Missouri Baptist and Lindsey Wilson (Kentucky). Columbia swept Missouri Baptist in the 2015 national championship match.

SOU is scheduled to play four matches at the Summer Slam, including its season-opener against No. 24 Northwestern (Iowa) and a key early-season clash Friday against No. 9 Vanguard (California). The Raiders' preseason schedule also includes matches against No. 19 Biola (California) and No. 16 Westmont (California). 

SOU's league-opener is Sept. 2 against Corban, in Salem, and its home-opener will be Sept. 9 against Evergreen State. The Raiders will play their home matches at Ashland High School's Mountain Avenue Gym this season as SOU's new gym is being built next to Raider Stadium.

The Raiders matched the highest win total in 11 years last season — they finished 26-6 — after advancing to the NAIA Championships final site for the third time since 2010 and eighth time overall.

SOU returns All-Cascade Conference seniors Emma Gasman, a middle blocker, and Lauren McGowne, a setter.

The Raiders went 17-3 to finish third in the CCC last season, and lost to College of Idaho in the semifinals of the conference tournament. They ended up earning an at-large berth to the national championships and beat La Sierra (California) in four sets to advance to the final site.

Prep Football

The Ashland High School football program will host its annual Red & White Scrimmage Saturday at Walter A. Phillips Field.

The scrimmage, set to begin at  7 p.m., is open to the public and will be the first game-like event to be played on the school's new synthetic turf.

Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said the practice will mostly likely feature the Grizzlies' starting varsity offense against "the best of the rest," as well as a freshmen scrimmage.

High school officials from throughout the Rogue Valley will also be on hand to referee the event, which will last about an hour and a half.