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SOU volleyball picked as CCC's preseason favorite

Eight days ahead of the 2019 opener, the Southern Oregon University volleyball team was anointed the preseason favorite in the Cascade Conference after making the deepest postseason run in team history last fall.

The CCC coaches’ poll, released Thursday by the league office, showed six first-place votes for SOU and four for Eastern Oregon, which was picked to finish second. The teams were co-champions with 17-3 records in 2018, though the Raiders claimed both head-to-head matchups in the regular season and a four-set affair for the CCC Tournament championship.

The Raiders are well-equipped to defend their title: They’ll again showcase reigning CCC Player of the Year Taylor Ristvedt, CCC Libero of the Year Emma Ryan, and a loaded front line that includes second-team NAIA All-American Makayla Hoyt and All-CCC selection Elliott Cook. For the first time in team history, that core brought SOU to the national quarterfinal round at the NAIA Tournament and wrapped with a 29-5 record.

Like EOU, the Raiders lost just two starters.

They’ll open at home with back-to-back tournaments, starting Aug. 16 at 3 p.m. against Simpson (Calif.) and 6 p.m. against Life Pacific (Calif.).

College of Idaho, another perennial contender, received the final first-place vote and was third in the poll. Corban was fourth, Northwest (Wash.) fifth and Evergreen (Wash.) sixth.

Southern Oregon University Redshirt Junior Taylor Ristvedt attempts to drive the ball past Corban defenders at Bob Rheim Arena on Friday.(PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)