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SOU women crack top 25 poll after weekend sweep

ASHLAND — Last weekend's impressive Cascade Collegiate Conference sweep catapulted the Southern Oregon University women's basketball team into the NAIA Division II top 25 poll for the first time since 2003.

Days after beating both The College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon, the Raiders (21-3) came in at No. 20 with 169 poll points in the poll released on Wednesday. College of the Ozarks earned 13 first-place votes to stay at No. 1 for the seventh straight week, while Eastern Oregon, the only other CCC team in the top 25, fell eight spots to No. 25.

"I think it's great for our program," SOU third-year head coach Lynn Kennedy said. "As far as recruiting and looking into the future of where we want to go I think it's a step in the right direction. Does it do anything as far as winning games? No, but it definitely helps our confidence.

"I think it says a lot about the players we have brought in and how hard we've worked to get there."

The Raiders made the most impressive jump of the week. In the previous poll, released Jan. 30, they garnered 57 poll points and were listed in the "others receiving votes" section.

"We took quite a jump and I think a lot of that had to do with how well Eastern Oregon had been playing," Kennedy said, pointing out that the Mountaineers recently competed well against Vanguard University (Calif.), currently the No. 4-ranked team at the NAIA Division I level.

The weekend sweep increased SOU's league-best win streak to nine games and created a tie atop the CCC standings between the Raiders and Mountaineers. Both are 12-2 in league play, one game ahead of The College of Idaho with six games left in the regular season.

The Raiders travel this weekend for games against Cascade (12-12, 5-9 CCC) and Warner Pacific (5-18, 3-11).

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. He can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com

SOU women crack top 25 poll after weekend sweep