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SOU volleyball garners best-ever postseason ranking

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Southern Oregon’s performance at the NAIA Volleyball Championships translated to the team’s highest-ever postseason ranking at No. 8 in the season’s final NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, which was released Wednesday by the national office.

Since the NAIA began releasing postseason rankings in 2011, the Raiders have been included four times: They were No. 11 in 2011 and No. 13 in both 2014 and 2015.

They topped those spots by appearing in the national quarterfinal round for the first time last week, bowing out at the hands of eventual champion Park (Mo.) in four sets.

SOU was No. 10 when the tournament started. Midland (Neb.) was the only other team outside of the top-eight to advance to the quarterfinals and moved up 10 spots to No. 4 in the postseason poll.

The Raiders finished 29-5, good for the highest win percentage (.853) in team history. They were ranked 13th in this year’s preseason poll.

The Cascade Conference was also represented in the poll by No. 11 Eastern Oregon, No. 14 College of Idaho and No. 16 Corban. For the first time in CCC history, four teams advanced out of pool play at the tournament.

Men's College Soccer

RAIDERS RANKED 13TH IN NAIA TOP 25 POSTSEASON POLL: The Southern Oregon men’s soccer team’s climb up the NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll ended with a No. 13 ranking in the postseason edition, which was released Wednesday by the national office.

The ranking is the new highest in the program’s four-year history, putting an exclamation point on a season full of more firsts for the Raiders. They finished 17-3-3 overall, were the first team in a decade to go unbeaten in Cascade Conference play at 11-0-2, and were among the last 16 teams standing in the NAIA, advancing to the final site last week in Irvine, Calif.

SOU was eliminated at the national tournament by Rio Grande (Ohio), which ended up at No. 5 in the poll. Central Methodist (Mo.) captured the title and the top ranking.

The Raiders didn’t appear in the Top 25 for the first time until midway through the regular season, debuting at No. 24 on Oct. 9. They moved up five spots the next week, then five more the week after that, and sat at No. 14 for a month through the playoffs.

Going into their final match, the Raiders were working on the NAIA’s longest active unbeaten streak at 20 games.

Among CCC teams, Rocky Mountain (Mont.) landed at No. 8 after advancing to the quarterfinals and Corban moved up to No. 14.

Southern Oregon University volleyball players celebrate during game against Corban at Lithia Motors Pavilion. (PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)