Sept. 8, 2009

Courtesy of Ohio Northern Athletics

ADA -- The Ohio Northern volleyball team is ranked No. 4 in the first weekly American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III poll, released Tuesday.

The Polar Bears (4-0) are coming off a perfect 4-0 record at the 31st annual ONU Invitational tournament at the ONU Sports Center Friday and Saturday.

Northern swept Heidelberg, No. 16 Calvin (Mich.), No. 8 Southwestern (Tex.) and Thomas More (Ky.) in three sets to win the tournament title.

ONU was ranked No. 6 in the AVCA Preseason poll this fall and was No. 4 in the final 2008 poll after reaching the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

Ohio Northern has been ranked for 147 weeks in the 18-year history of the AVCA poll, the fourth-most in NCAA Division III history. Northern also ranks 10th with 63 weeks being ranked in the top 10 of the poll.

The Polar Bears received 529 points this week after receiving 479 points in the preseason poll.

The No. 4 ranking matches the highest ranking ever by the Polar Bears, as they were also No. 4 in 2008 and in 2004.

Leading the way and earning 23 of the 24 first-place votes is defending national champion Emory (Ga.) with 599 points. The Eagles knocked the Polar Bears out of the 2008 NCAA Final Four in a thrilling five-set match.

Juniata (Pa.) is second with 572 points and one first place vote, La Verne (Calif.) is third with 542 points and Carthage (Wis.) is fifth with 513 points.

Regional foes Wittenberg (No. 9), Hope (Mich.) (No. 11) and Calvin (No. 12) are also ranked in the top 25.

Ohio Northern will return to action on Tuesday with a home contest against Defiance at 7 pm at the ONU Sports Center.

On Friday and Saturday, the Polar Bears will travel to Saint Louis, Mo. for the Washington Invitational and will face No. 18 Concordia (Minn.), No. 8 Washington (Mo.), No. 17 Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 10 Pacific Lutheran (Wash.) during the weekend.

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