A little book keeping before the wrap-up. I updated the Watch List and have added team blubs at the bottom where I go a little more in-depth on their Pool C chances. My rankings will come out tomorrow and the AVCA will have theirs out on Tuesday (per normal). The big news is that the first public Regional Rankings come out Wednesday. If you are a fan of a bubble team then break out the rabbit’s feet and find your four-leaf clover because these rankings mean something. I did a Regional Ranking post a week or so ago, which you can find here. If you are a fan of Colorado College, Southwestern, Trinity or CMS then maybe regional rankings don’t concern you too much (today) and you want to look at my post on Regional Host Sites, which you can find here. It’s a bit outdated now with Trinity’s loss this weekend but the gist is the same. I did a commentary on Hitting Percentages this week and really I just do it because I like listing the top 10 teams in hitting and saying that they are the only teams that have a chance at winning the championship. Finally, I did finish all four West Region conference reviews and I wanted to give a shout out to the SCIAC fans as it appears it was the most popular of the four. I guess that means I’m very popular in SoCal (where I was born and brought up). The Northwest seems to hate me, which may have something to do with an early post I did titled, “Why I hate the Northwest Conference”. (But I really do love you guys. I was young and didn’t know what I was doing and I haven’t figured out how to delete posts, yet.”) And now to the wrap-up…
Off to the ASC, which had a big week with their crossover being hosted by Hardin-Simmons and McMurry. In the East Division, UTD needs one more win or a UTT loss to clinch and this means they host the ASC tournament. I think UMHB is the best team in the ASC but I do not bet against UTD playing at home. This came about with UTD winning all four matches this week and UTT dropping two (against McMurry and UMHB). Belhaven had been playing well but have now lost 6 straight and ETBU finally won to break their 4 match losing streak. LeTourneau and Louisiana College round out the East Division and I have to admit I was a little disappointed that LC couldn’t beat Sul Ross State to get their first Division III victory ever. Over in the West Division it’s all about UMHB as they are now 13-1 in conference play. Concordia sits in second place but couldn’t get by UTD this weekend and will now face off against UMHB twice this week. Hardin-Simmons couldn’t use home court to beat UTD and lost to Concordia earlier in the week and now sits firmly in 3rd place. Howard Payne is two games back and still has one left with the Cowgirls but really need to win out to make the conference tournament. Sul Ross State, as I mentioned above, beat LC for their first conference win of the year. Looking forward, UTT hosts UTD on Tuesday to keep their division hopes alive and then UTD heads off to Oshkosh (hey Ricky!) for some important matches to improve their Pool C qualifications.
Now to the NWC where it was simply a GIANT weekend when it comes to Pool A (automatic qualifier) drama and the princess of this story has to be Pacific Lutheran. Whitworth was in a great position Friday to unseat Pac Lu from first place and take control of the conference as they found themselves up 2-0 in sets against the Lutes. But Pac Lu fought back and won the next three rather easily giving them the season sweep against the Pirates. This put Pac Lu a game up in the standings and holding the tiebreaker. To top it off Pacific would get upset by George Fox to fall three games back and to top the weekend off the Lutes would sweep the only team to beat them in conference (Whitman). Pac Lu has 6 matches left (five at home) to claim the first spot in the NCAA tournament. (Since the NWC doesn’t play a tournament, they are always the first conference to put a team in the tournament.) The rest of the NWC have to hope the Lutes trip up because I don’t see a Pool C bid coming out of the NWC this year. Good job by George Fox this week in winning both of their matches and they now sit in fourth (tied with Whitman). Puget Sound sits in a tie with Willamette in 6th after getting swept twice this weekend and Linfield and then Lewis & Clark round out the conference.
The SCAC returned to conference play this weekend with half of the teams playing at Colorado College and the other half at Trinity. Really no drama in Colorado as the matches played out as expected and all ended in a sweep. Trinity was a little different as TLU keeps trying to upset the three-headed monster that leads the conference and were able to take a game off of both Southwestern and Trinity but in the end lost both. The story of the weekend was the epic Trinity/Southwestern match that saw 3 match points for SU in set 4 only to see Trinity win 31-29. The fifth set saw Trinity jump out in front 5-1 and then 14-9 only to see Brandi Campos serve up 7 straight (the last an ace) for an improbable Pirate victory. One more weekend of play in the SCAC where we’ll see the Colorado College matches against both Southwestern and then Trinity. CC only needs to beat one of them to secure the regular season title and all important #1 seed. If they drop both then we could see a three-way tie. Austin College moved into 4th place with TLU falling to 5th. Centenary is in the 6th position and those are your probable SCAC Tournament teams. Rounding out the conference is Dallas and Schreiner.
The SCIAC wasn’t as messy this week as it has been all season. Chapman is still struggling to find itself but finally won against Redlands after dropping matches against Whittier and Cal Lu. They now sit in a 4th place tie with Cal Lu and this is important as it’s the last SCIAC tournament spot. CMS has now won 8 straight and sit in first place after taking down Redlands and Caltech. La Verne needed a good week and got it by winning an important match against Cal Lu on the road and then beating Redlands and Caltech. They sit in second place with Whittier right behind as they took down Chapman and Pomona-Pitzer. Occidental almost threw a wrench into the Whittier Poets’ works but lost 17-15 in the 5th set. They are a half game out in 6th. Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Caltech round out the conference. La Verne will host CMS on Tuesday while Cal Lu goes to Occidental in important conference matches this week. With 6 teams fighting for 4 tournament spots, each match matters and the SCIAC promises to remain messy for two more weeks.
That’s about it. Wednesday is the day…regional rankings! It really is like Christmas for nuts like me.