The Southern Oregon University volleyball team is ranked third behind College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon in a Cascade Collegiate Conference preseason coaches' poll released Monday that closely resembles the final league standings of 2012.
College of Idaho, the defending league champions, picked up eight of a possible nine first-place votes and 97 poll points overall to enter the season as the clear favorite, while Eastern Oregon, which tied SOU for second last season, received the other two first-place votes and 88 points.
Southern Oregon received 79 points, five more than fourth-ranked Concordia. Northwest Christian, Warner Pacific, Northwest, Oregon Tech, Corban and Evergeen rounded out the 10-team league's preseason poll.
Southern Oregon returns four starters from a team that finished 19-11 overall and 14-4 in league play before losing to Eastern Oregon in the CCC tournament semifinals.
All-Cascade Collegiate Conference libero Renee Yomtob, a senior, returns to lead the Raiders. She'll be joined by fellow seniors Liz Madden and Mona Goudarzian, both outside hitters.
The Raiders began practice Monday in preparation for their first action of the season — the prestigious Biola Invitational, Aug. 22-23. The Raiders will face four ranked teams in the tournament, included top-five programs Biola and Concordia (Calif.).
The top six teams in the CCC's final regular season standings will earn spots in the conference's postseason tournament, which begins Nov. 12. The regular season champion and the runner-up automatically qualify for the tournament semifinals, where they'll face the winners of the quarterfinals contests. The league quarterfinals will be held on campus sites, while the regular season champion will host the semifinals and finals. The CCC's tournament champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships, which begin Nov. 23.
CCC Volleyball Preseason Poll
College of Idaho (8) 97
Eastern Oregon (2) 88
Southern Oregon 79
Northwest Christian 51
Warner Pacific 51
Oregon Tech 29
* First-place votes in parentheses