Here is the chart showing the teams in the NWC with their 2017 records and their statistics loss due to graduation in points, assists and digs.
|Lewis & Clark||2-21||21.9%||2.4%||4.2%|
Puget Sound and Whitworth seem to be in the hot seat in 2018 as they are at the 45% or higher mark in points loss as well as losing their primary setter and the majority of their defense. Ouch. Can this production be replaced? Sure, but probably not in a single season so I would expect both teams to struggle in 2018. This really opens the door for Pacific Lutheran, who were already through the door to be honest, and Pacific who were knocking this past season. The rest of the NWC seems to be in pretty good shape, as well, despite the loss of setters at Whitman and Pacific Lutheran. Jumping back to Whitworth and I’d have to say I’m a little more confident in them next season with respect to their hitting as they do have returning players that have made significant contributions (the big loss is with Cassandra Mendoza). The loss of Rita Dexter and just the sheer number of swings she took for the Loggers will be so hard to replace at Puget Sound.
Here were the NWC statistics losses in 2016:
|Lewis & Clark||5-18||1.4%||5.6%||23.1%|
Adding to the story the table tells, underclassmen losses impacted Pacific (ended up with a 35.6% points loss) and Lewis & Clark (28.2%). So, where we (maybe just I) were expecting a bump in 2017 for these two squads, it turned out to be true only for Pacific. You can see that Pacific Lutheran, therefore, had the least amount of statistics loss going into the 2017 season, which certainly had to help. You’ll remember that Pacific Lutheran had a great first weekend of matches beating St. Thomas, Saint Benedict and Clarkson (three teams that would qualify for the NCAA tournament). That’s why I think it’s important to recognize teams with small statistics losses and try to avoid them the first week or two if your team is trying to find its way. With regards to the rest of the teams and their losses in 2016, it’s really just a grab bag. Willamette did a good job maintaining with the worst statistics losses but other than George Fox, no one really jumped up. I think you’d have to say that both Whitworth and Puget Sound had disappointing 2017 seasons given that their statistics losses weren’t huge.
So as to scheduling in 2018, it appears that Puget Sound could end up hurting an opponent’s SOS as (most likely) will Whitworth. If George Fox can continue their improvement, they might be a team that will have some success in the NWC and maybe is a team that in the past should be avoided but not so in 2018. Linfield is a wild card with their coaching change but the statistics say they’ll be improving. The teams I wouldn’t want to face that first week would be Pacific Lutheran and Pacific. With the exception of the setter spot for the Lutes, both teams should be able to hit the ground running.