2018 Conf. Tournaments

Here is the 2018 Conference Tournament preview. I will update information as it becomes available or (and I’m sure this will happen) if you let me know where I messed up. Statistics/records were valid through October 29.

ASC Tournament

The ASC plays a unique modified double elimination format that gives a bye to the #1 seeds from each division. I say “modified” because starting this year the loser of the first two matches are eliminated immediately. At that point, the rest of the tournament is double elimination. The Tournament starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday and is hosted by UMHB. UMHB earned this right by winning the West Division as the ASC rotates the hosting site every year between the divisions. The first match will be ETBU against McMurry at 5 p.m. central followed by Concordia versus LeTourneau at 7:30 p.m. UMHB and UTD will then play the winners on Friday. McMurry beat ETBU in 5-sets in their only meeting this year while Concordia swept LeTourneau in their only meeting.

ASC Tournament Release

ASC Tournament Central

East #1 University of Texas at Dallas Comets (19-7 and 13-1 ASC)

UT-Dallas is in the top 3 of the conference in all of the major statistics. They are strong block and dig team but can still hit with high efficiency. They are also second in the conference in Opposition Hitting Percentage.

UTD runs a 6-2 offense behind setters Caroline Shecterle and Fayna Zeng. They run an interesting defense with their libero (Briana Tully) who comes in when serving for various positions and sort of plugs the leaks as they occur. The setters also sub in with the middles, which you don’t see very often. Lauren Schilling (3-Time POW) leads the conference in Blocks per Set and Total Blocks. Other players to watch are outsides Sydney Riordan (1-Time POW) and Dylan Brinkman who leads the team in digs. Brinkman is coming back from injury all of last year and has played better as the year progressed. Jillian Via (1-Time POW) started the year on the outside and is now playing right side. She leads the team in Points. Alyssa Porter (2-Time POW) is also doing a great job in the middle and is second in the conference in Hitting Percentage.

UTD played one of the tougher schedules in the nation but really hasn’t put together what they are capable of for long stretches. I watched their second UT-Tyler match and if they can keep that level of play going then they will be hard to beat in this tournament. UTD has a bye in the first round and will play the winner of Concordia and LeTourneau. They beat both teams during the season.

Unsung Player: Alex Nolan is a junior outside that is playing on the right side. She’s a high flyer that puts up an outstanding block and has the ability to be one of the best players on the court.

UTD has won the last three ASC tournaments and five in its history. This is their 15th straight appearance in the tournament.

Signature Wins: Heidelberg, Trinity, Cal Lutheran and UT-Tyler.

Awards: Lauren Schilling (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-ASC)(ASC East MVP), Jullian Via (All-ASC), Caroline Shecterle (All-ASC)(ASC East Sportsman), Sydney Riordan (All-ASC), Alyssa Porter (ASC East 2nd Team)

East #2 East Texas Baptist University Tigers (13-13 and 7-7 ASC)

East Texas Baptist University is probably best described in the same manner as last year, “…a really good defensive unit that can generate a lot of attacks but hasn’t been able to put the ball down consistently”. They lead the conference in Digs per Set and Total Digs and second in Total Attacks.

ETBU will run a 6-2 offense behind setters Elyse Shaw and Cassidy Zellmer. Sydney Lopez (1-Time POW) is the hitter to watch out for as she leads the team in points. Another hitter to watch is Bailey Byas but the Tigers really have a number of hitters that can step up at any moment and take over a game. Julia De Los Santos leads the team in digs and Karina Lay has done well in this department in limited time. The key to the Tigers’ success will be getting a few hitters going each game and putting pressure on their opponent.

ETBU was able to finish .500 in conference for the second year in a row and that was good enough for 2nd place in the East Division. They draw a tough first round match in McMurry but they played them to 5-sets during conference.

Unsung Player: Senior Paige Miller has had some very strong matches this season and if she can show more consistency during this tournament it will help the Tigers to advance.

This is ETBU’s 7th straight appearance in the ASC Tournament. They have won the ASC 3-times but not since 2003. They do lead the conference in total appearances as this will be their 17th.

Signature Win: None.

Awards: Sydney Lopez (ASC East 1st Team), Elyse Shaw (ASC East 2nd Team), Paige Miller (ASC East Second Team), Natalie Coburn (ASC East HM), Julia De Los Santos (ASC East HM), Bailey Byas (ASC East HM), Karina Lay (ASC East HM)

East #3 LeTourneau University Yellowjackets (7-20 and 4-10 ASC)

LeTourneau is middle of the pack or lower when looking at the major statistics but they have some players that can hurt you. The team has faltered a bit towards the end of the season and is currently on a 9 match losing streak.

LeTourneau will run a 6-2 and have used three setters in Cam Taylor, Makenna Schultz and Sydney Spillers. They have also had matches where Taylor has run a 5-1 although she is a shorter player. The hitting star for the team is Kianna Crow who not only leads the team in points but the conference in Kills per Set and Total Attacks. Crow is also second in Points per Set and first in Total Kills. Needless to say, Crow has to be playing at the highest level for LeTourneau to have a chance in this tournament. Other hitters to watch are Mikayla Thomas and Lexie Welton. Liz Williams leads the team in digs followed by Crow.

With UT-Tyler leaving DIII and being ineligible for this tournament, it left a spot open that the Yellowjackets grabbed. They should be very proud of this accomplishment and with so many freshmen it’s a good launching pad for future success. With that said, their first round opponent is Concordia, a team that swept them earlier in the season.

Unsung Player: Lauren Egby-McNeal is one of the better blockers in the conference and if she can control the net against some of these better teams it will help the defense and improve their chances.

This will be LeTourneau’s 2nd appearance in the ASC tournament and they now have the record for longest time between appearances (1998 was their first). They have yet to win a title.

Signature Wins: None.

Awards: Kianna Crow (ASC East Freshman of the Year) (ASC East 1st Team), Cam Taylor (ASC East HM), Mikayla Thomas (ASC East HM)

West #1 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (22-3 and 15-0 ASC)

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor leads the conference or is near the top of every major statistical category. The most important one is Hitting Percentage as they are also in the top 10 in the nation and we know that the last 8 national champions have had that in common.

From what I’ve seen, UMHB sort of runs a modified 5-1 with Cory Jo Martin. They will also use Miranda Klein (4-Time POW) as a setter in a 6-2 and both are typically on the floor at all times. Depending on the situation, you could see Klein set the first ball and Martin the rest of the rally. UMHB is a good blocking team and that starts with Sarah Paolini (2-Time POW). She is second in the conference in Blocks per Set and is second in Hitting Percentage. Klein also puts up an impressive block, which makes it tough on the outside hitters matched up against her. Another hitter to watch out for is Corinne Novak (1-Time POW) who leads the team in kills and is second in the conference in Total Kills. Haleigh Evans (2-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is third in the conference in Digs per Set.

The only bump in the road UMHB experienced in conference was to UT-Tyler and that doesn’t count in the standings. They will get a bye in the first round and play the winner of the ETBU versus McMurry match. They have beaten both teams during the season.

Unsung Player: Jenna Gillean. I’m not sure how she didn’t get a player of the week honor (same goes for LeTourneau’s Crow). She and Novak are battling it out for the team lead in kills and Gillean is second on the team in digs. Just an all-around great player.

This is UMHB’s 8th straight appearance in the ASC Tournament. They last won the tournament in 2014 and have won twice overall.

Signature Wins: Heidelberg, Cal Lutheran and UT-Dallas.

Awards: Miranda Klein (D3VbWest All-Region)(ASC West 2nd Team), Sarah Paolini (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-ASC), Jenna Gillean (ASC West MVP)(All-ASC), Corinne Novak (All-ASC)(ASC West Newcomer), Cory Jo Martin (All-ASC), Haleigh Evans (ASC West 2nd Team)

West #2 Concordia University Tornados (17-10 and 11-4 ASC)

Concordia University has been able to have success this season without being dominate in any one statistic. With that said, they are second in the conference in Aces per Set and can use their serving game to force teams out-of-system.

Concordia has been running a 5-1 system behind setter Georgia Quiroz (1-Time POW) who leads the conference in Assists per Set. Marissa Stinson (1-Time POW) is the hitter to watch as she leads the team in Kills per Set and blocks. Stinson also leads the conference in Hitting Percentage and is second in Total Kills. Marjani Myles is another hitter to watch and she is second on the team in blocks. Rylee Davis leads the team in digs and is third in the conference in Digs per Set.

Once again, the West Division performed a little better than the East did this season but in the end it’s all about getting past UMHB and UTD. Concordia will draw LeTourneau, a team they swept in their only meeting this season, with the winner getting UT-Dallas.

Unsung Player: Tristyn Massey isn’t really unsung but she has been overshadowed a bit by Stinson. Her best matches have been against McMurry and if she brings that level to every match then watch out.

This is Concordia’s second straight appearance in the tournament and this is their 7th appearance overall. They have won the ASC once (in 1999).

Signature Win: La Verne.

Awards: Marissa Stinson (All-ASC), Tristyn Massey (All-ASC), Marjani Myles (ASC West 1st Team), Georgia Quiroz (ASC West 2nd Team)

West #3 McMurry University War Hawks (23-5 and 11-4 ASC)

McMurry was my dark horse pick in the ASC this year so making the tournament really isn’t a surprise. I believe McMurry will be a tough out in this tournament despite the third seed. As a team they finished second in conference in Blocks per Set and Hitting Percentage.

McMurry runs a 6-2 system behind setters Emarie James and Lauryn Davis. Their leading hitter is outside Jasmine Jones who somehow escaped recognition by the ASC this season. The War Hawks also have Justice McGowan (2-Time POW) and Kianni Mitchell (1-Time POW) patrolling the middle and they are 3rd and 4th in the conference in Blocks per Set. McGowan is also 4th in the conference in Hitting Percentage. Odalis Rodriguez (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is second in the conference in Digs per Set.

The War Hawks ended up with the West #3 seed as they tied Concordia but lost the tiebreaker. They will play ETBU, a team they beat in 5-sets, with the winner getting host UMHB.

Unsung Player: Jordyn Burnell (1-Time POW) can’t be forgotten on this team and if she can get 10+ kills a match it will go a long way in helping the War Hawks advance.

McMurry has bounced in and out of DIII and the ASC and this is their first time eligible in awhile. Overall this is their 13th appearance with the last one coming in 2011.

Signature Win: Randolph-Macon.

Awards: Justice McGowan (All-ASC), Odalis Rodriguez (ASC West 2nd Team), Jasmine Jones (ASC West 2nd Team), Emarie James (ASC West 2nd Team), Kianni Mitchell (ASC West HM)

Prediction

The West Division is a little stronger as a whole than the East so I think all three West teams will be there on Friday. However, I do believe UTD and UMHB are good enough to win their first matches. I believe McMurry will survive their double-elimination and make it to Saturday. It really comes down to UTD and UMHB and it’s not going to surprise me if they split their matches along the way. Even though this tournament will be hosted at UMHB, give me UTD to win the ASC Tournament in a mild upset.

SCAC Tournament

The SCAC tournament begins Friday and concludes on Saturday with 6 teams qualifying. The tournament is being hosted by the University of Dallas. (Fun fact, in my 6 years associating with Southwestern, this will be the first time Dallas has hosted any volleyball where the Pirates have played.) This is a single elimination tournament with the top 2 seeds (Colorado College and Trinity University) earning byes.

Host team Dallas and Centenary will face off at 3:30 p.m. central followed by Southwestern and Austin College at 6:00 p.m. Dallas won both matches against Centenary during the season only losing one set. Southwestern had those same results against Austin College.

SCAC Tournament Central

#1 Seed Colorado College Tigers (29-2 and 15-1 SCAC)

Colorado College led the conference in Assist per Set (3rd Nationally) and Hitting Percentage (2nd Nationally) as well as Kills per Set (4th Nationally). The Tigers also lead the conference in Opposition Hitting Percentage (6th Nationally). This is a team that’s only struggle has been to get the recognition they deserve because of a weaker than normal schedule. Make no mistake, however, not only is this team capable of winning this tournament but they are one of the teams in the nation that I believe has a chance to win it all.

Colorado College is in a bit of flux when it comes to the setter position. Most of the year they have run Lizzy Counts in a 5-1 but recently, with the return of Jordan Mullen, they have moved to a 6-2 to get an extra hitter on the floor. Isabelle Aragon-Menzel is now the other setter at times. Expect to see either system run by the Tigers moving forward. The Tigers run a fast offense and their best hitters have been Marguertie Spaethling (4-Time POW) and Haley Harris (1-Time POW). Spaethling is the conference leader in Hitting Percentage and is second in Blocks per Set and Points per Set. She was one of my finalists for All-Region Player of the Year. Harris is third in the conference in Kills per Set and fourth in Points per Set. With Mullen back in action, it’s quite possible that Harris will be moved to the right side at times.  Anna Gurolnick (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs.

The Tigers earned the #1 seed through a tiebreaker with Trinity. They will have a slightly easier path to the finals as they don’t have to play Southwestern, although they may be happier that Austin College is on the other side of the bracket as the ‘Roos took them to 5-sets.

Unsung Player: Jordan Mullen is back but I doubt she’s 100%. At the end of last season she was the best outside hitter in the region and was personally responsible for winning the regional semi-final against Pacific Lutheran. The Tigers really don’t need additional weapons but they’ve got one.

Colorado College is the defending SCAC champion and has won 4 tournament titles.

Signature Wins: St. Thomas, Pacific Lutheran, UW-Oshkosh and Trinity.

Awards: Marguertie Spaethling (D3VbWest All-Region) (All-SCAC 1st Team) (SCAC Player of the Year), Lizzy Counts (D3VbWest All-Region) (All-SCAC 1st Team), Haley Harris (D3VbWest All-Region) (All-SCAC 1st Team),

#2 Seed Trinity Tigers (24-5 and 15-1 SCAC)

Trinity University is just all around really good and while they do not lead the conference in any one statistic they place high in just about all of them. They sport the second highest Hitting Percentage in conference (8th nationally) and are also second in Kills per Set and Digs per Set.

Trinity runs a 5-1 system with Katrina Lieberman (2-Time POW) and Lieberman leads the conference in Assist per Set. Madeline McKay (1-Time POW) leads the team in points and is fourth in conference in Hitting Percentage and is third in Points per Set. Avery Tuggle is second on the team in points but can be a little more inconsistent than McKay. Sarah Mullens (2-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is second in conference in Aces per Set and sixth in Digs per Set. I found out this weekend she follows the site so she’s now my favorite Trinity player (but I still hate all Trinity players).

Trinity draws the #2 seed based on a tiebreaker with Colorado College and will await the winner of the Southwestern / Austin College match. Trinity was 2-0 against both teams but Southwestern took Trinity to 5-sets just this past weekend.

Unsung Player: The Middles. Ellis, Funk (1-Time POW) and Linker are the middles and Trinity needs two of them to step up and dominate the net and provide consistent offense to take this title home.

Trinity has won the SCAC Tournament 3 of the last 5 years. They have won the SCAC a record 18 times overall.

Signature Wins: Gustavus Adolphus, UW-Stevens Point, Aurora, La Verne and Colorado College.

Awards: Katrina Lieberman (D3VbWest All-Region) (All-SCAC 1st Team), Madeline McKay (D3VbWest All-Region) (All-SCAC 1st Team), Jade Schoenberger (All-SCAC 2nd Team), Sarah Mullens (All-SCAC 2nd Team), Emily Ellis (All-SCAC 2nd Team)

#3 Seed Southwestern University Pirates (16-11 and 12-4 SCAC)

Southwestern University played a very tough schedule with a very young team that resulted in a down year for them. With that said, they still finished third in the SCAC and it was never really in question. The Pirates actually lead the conference in Attacks per Set so they will get their chances but the problem has been not being able to terminate rallies.

Southwestern runs a 5-1 system with setter Makenzie Mendez who is second in the conference in Assist per Set. The team is led by the always smiling Jamison Duck who leads the conference in Aces per Set, Kills per Set, and Attacks per Set. She is the Pirate’s workhorse and has really flown under the radar in her four years while putting up monster numbers. Alyssa Dooley (1-Time POW) is another hitter to watch out for on the Pirates and her play continues to improve as the season goes on. She is fourth in the conference in Kills per Set. Brandi Campos (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is third in the team in Digs per Set. Within the team, Brandi is known for the variety of foods she likes to try.

Southwestern only lost to the teams ahead of them in the standings and draws the #3 seed. They will play Austin College who they beat both times they’ve played this year. If they win, they will face off against Trinity.

Unsung Player: The Middles. Just like Trinity, the middles are going to determine the success for the Pirates. Haven Cathey is the only non-Freshman in the group and, although she’s playing out of position, she’s getting more comfortable as the season advances. Production will also be needed from Whitlock and Stowers to have any chance.

Southwestern last won the SCAC Tournament in 2015 and have 5 wins overall. They have been in the SCAC finals 3 of the last 4 years.

Signature Wins: UT-Dallas.

Awards: Jamison Duck (All-SCAC 1st Team), Ashley Whitlock (All-SCAC 2nd Team), Brandi Campos (All-SCAC 2nd Team).

#4 Seed University of Dallas Crusaders (19-13 and 7-9 SCAC)

The University of Dallas leads the conference in Aces per Set. The Crusaders will be hosting the tournament and there was some concern at the start of the year that once again the host team would not be represented. Just a credit to the team to not only qualify but claim the 4th seed.

Dallas runs a 5-1 system behind Elizabeth Smith who is fifth in the conference in Assist per Set. Their best hitter has to be Dayjah Whyte (1-Time POW) who leads the team in points and is fifth in the conference in Hitting Percentage and Points per Set. She missed the matches in Denver over the weekend but I’m told she’ll be ready this week. Right side Abigail Porras is another hitter to watch for as well as when she’s serving (5th in conference in Services Aces). Krystyn Pua leads the team in digs and is third in conference in Aces per Set and fourth in Digs per Set. I talk a lot about some of the young teams in the region but I had no idea that the top 5 points leaders for Dallas are all freshman. I knew they were young but that is something.

Quite an accomplishment for Dallas to earn the #4 seed after missing out on the tournament last year. If they can get the home crowd behind them they are going to cause some problems for the other teams. They will draw Centenary on Friday who they have beaten twice only dropping one set in the process. If they win, they will get Colorado College who has swept them twice.

Unsung Player: Ellise Anable is another one of the freshman on this team and one of the points leaders. If Anable can improve her hitting efficiency during this tournament it will only cause more problems for their opposition.

Dallas has not won the SCAC Tournament and last appeared in 2016.

Signature Win: None.

Awards: Dayjah Whyte (All-SCAC 1st Team) (SCAC Freshman of the Year)

#5 Seed Centenary Ladies (17-17 and 7-9 SCAC)

Centenary College makes it back-to-back tournament appearances as this program continues to improve. They lost a really good hitter last year and to then tie for 4th is pretty impressive.

Centenary College runs a 5-1 behind Rachel Demerjian (1-Time POW) but can do a 6-2 if needed. Two freshmen lead the team in hitting in Alyssa Davis and Lauren Kelly. Davis is fifth in the conference in Total Kills and is the go to option on the team. Senior leadership is provided by Michaela Brantley who is 6th in conference in Hitting Percentage and 7th in Total Blocks. Marissa Sandoval leads the team in digs and is 6th in the conference in Total Digs.

Centenary College tied for 4th in conference but was placed 5th after the tiebreakers. They haven’t had any success against their first round opponent (Dallas) losing both matches.

Unsung Player: Makenzie Shaw is a four-year starter that will be playing her last match at some point this weekend. If she can improve her efficiency and give Demerjian another option at the net then it could be enough to get by Dallas.

Centenary has not won the SCAC tournament.

Signature Wins: Hendrix.

Awards: Rachel Demerjian (All-SCAC 2nd Team)

#6 Seed Austin College Kangaroos (24-12 and 6-8 SCAC)

Austin College has always been able to recruit players that can block and that trend continues. The ‘Roos lead the conference in Blocks per Set and Total Blocks (8th Nationally). They also are first in the conference in Total Digs. Austin College brought in a ton of new recruits and at the beginning of the year they had the largest roster in the West Region. Still, they were able to qualify for the conference tournament as they tied for 4th in the standings.

Austin College runs a 6-2 behind Brooklyn Talley and Sam Fawcett. Their top hitter is Mayson Kennon who leads the team in kills and points. She is also 6th in Total Kills for the region. Freshman Christine Royalty has also been a force in the middle and leads the conference in Blocks per Set and Total Blocks. The other middle is senior Kristen Massey who is 3rd in the conference in Blocks per Set and 2nd in Total Blocks. Mari Prazak (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is 5th in the conference in Digs per Set.

Austin College plays a ton of matches every year and always seems to reach 20 wins but fell short this year. Although they tied for 4th in conference they drew the short stick and received the 6th seed. They draw Southwestern in the first round and lost both matches to them this year. This team has saved some of their best performances for the best teams in the region so you can’t count them out.

Unsung Player: Aelyn Rodriguez on the right side is in her last year playing the most she has in her career. She puts up a strong block, which will be needed against Southwestern.

Austin College has not won the SCAC tournament although I don’t remember a time where they missed out on the tournament.

Signature Wins: None.

Awards: Mayson Kennon (All-SCAC 2nd Team)

Prediction

Give me Dallas at home against Centenary although this should be closer than their two previous matches have been this year. I think Austin College is capable of the upset over Southwestern but I think the Pirates win this match. Colorado College will be too strong for Dallas in the semi-final match. Southwestern has a real chance against Trinity but you have to think the Tigers will figure out a way to win this one. Too many times the Pirates have gotten close to a top team only to fall in the fifth set. Tigers versus Tigers and I’ll take Colorado College in this one. It’s really a coin flip. (In closing I’ll just throw this out there…if you Tigers could just throw this one to my Pirates then all three of us get in and the regional will be hosted by Trinity. Let us help you.)

SCIAC Tournament

The SCIAC tournament begins Thursday and concludes on Saturday and only consists of four teams. The top two seeds host their semi-final match with the highest winning seed then hosting the final.

CMS will host La Verne at 9 p.m. central and they did beat the Leopards in both matches this season although one went to 5-sets. Cal Lutheran will host in the other match against Chapman. These teams split their two conference matches.

SCIAC Tournament Release

SCIAC Tournament Central

#1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas (24-3 and 15-1 SCIAC)

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps leads the conference in Digs per Set, Team Kills and Opposing Hitting Percentage. It’s a little concerning that they are not stronger statistically nationally but CMS has never fielded the team Coach Vlasich envisioned prior to the season due to injuries.

CMS has run both a 5-1 behind Phoebe Madsen (1-Time POW) and a 6-2 when they add Jessica Lee to the mix. Earlier in the season it was about getting Madsen’s offense into the system but as more players have come back it hasn’t been needed as much. The hitters that have been there most of the year are Amanda Walker (seriously the best player in any conference NOT to receive a player of the week award) and Melanie Moore. Walker leads the teams in points and is second in the conference in Kills per Set. Walker is also the conference leader in Points per Set. Moore was another CMS player that missed some time this year but in conference she is 3rd in Blocks per Set and 2nd in Hitting Percentage. Sarah Tritschler (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is second in the conference in Digs per Set and Total Digs.

CMS had a number of 5-set matches this season and lost to Cal Lutheran at home which tells us there could be an upset this weekend. Middle Regan Dinovitz also missed the last match of the season so will she be healthy. CMS draws La Verne in the first match and did beat them both times they have played this season. La Verne did take CMS to 5-sets at home. This is not a slam dunk.

Unsung Player: Too many! Here’s the thing, who will be on the floor? Can Jackie Jones be more consistent, if they need Madsen to hit will Jessica Lee be ready, can Melanie Williams contribute, is Dinovitz healthy, can they integrate in Margot Mafra Spencer, can…etc.

CMS is the defending SCIAC champion and the defending national champion. They have two tournament wins in their history.

Signature Wins: Carthage, UT-Dallas (twice), Trinity, UT-Tyler, Emory, La Verne (twice), Chapman (twice) and Cal Lutheran.

Awards: Phoebe Madsen (D3VbWest Player of the Year)(D3VbWest All-Region)(SCIAC Player of the Year)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Amanda Walker (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Melanie Moore (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Sarah Tritschler (All-SCAC 2nd Team)

#2 California Lutheran University Regals (17-10 and 11-5 SCIAC)

California Lutheran University leads the conference in Attacks per Set and is second in Digs per Set so they keep rallies alive with their defense. They were the streakiest team in the conference all year and lucky for them they have won 2 in a row.

Cal Lutheran has run a 6-2 behind setters Steph Rolfson and Jennifer Kent but have also run a 5-1 system with either setter although Rolfson has the bulk of the time this year. The leading hitters are Amanda Roberts (2-Time POW) and freshman Maci Haddad. Roberts leads the team in points and is 6th in conference in Kills per Set and 7th in Points per Set. Haddad was first in the conference in Blocks per Set and Hitting Percentage. Carly Rose Howard leads the team in digs and is 7th in conference in Total Digs.

Cal Lutheran earned the #2 seed by going 7-1 in the second half of the conference season only losing to Whittier. They get to host the match against Chapman but oddly they lost to the Panthers at home in 4-sets. They ended up beating them away in 5-sets. This should be a great match.

Unsung Player: Taylor Johnson has played off and on this season but has gotten a bunch of time the second half of conference play. Really, the Regals need to find that 3rd and 4th hitter to pair up with Roberts and Haddad.

Cal Lutheran has dominated the SCIAC tournament since it was started winning 5 times.

Signature Win: JWU (RI), Carthage, La Verne, CMS and Chapman.

Awards: Amanda Roberts (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Maci Haddad (All-SCIAC 1st Team), Steph Rolfson (All-SCIAC 2nd Team)

#3 Chapman University Panthers (19-7 and 10-6 SCIAC)

Chapman University was expected to have a down year but behind their two fab freshmen they finished in a tie for 3rd in conference. Chapman leads the conference in Blocks per Set, Hitting Percentage and Kills per Set. They finished the second half of conference 4-4 which cost them the hosting gig.

Chapman will run a 6-2 but they are now using three setters in Sophie Srivastava (2-Time POW), Jessica Blum and Kaitlyn Raymundo and we’ll just have to wait to see who they use in this tournament. If Srivastava isn’t setting then she’ll come across the front and hit. The Panthers have three strong hitters in Jessi Lumsden (1-Time POW), Srivastava and Lauren Friend. Freshman Lumsden leads the team in points and is 3rd in conference in Kills per Set, 3rd in Points per Set and 4th in Total Kills. Freshman Srivastava is 4th in conference in Hitting Percentage, 6th in Points per Set and 1st in Triple-Doubles (2nd Nationally). Friend is 2nd in conference in Blocks per Set and 3rd in Hitting Percentage. Sara Utsugi (1-Time POW) leads the team in digs and is 5th in conference in Digs per Set.

As mentioned before, Chapman has faltered a bit down the stretch but is more than capable of winning this tournament. They tied for third based on their fast start and won the tiebreaker over both La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer. They play Cal Lutheran who they split with on the season.

Unsung Player: Nayelli Munoz is a pretty darn good player who only gets held back by her lack of sets. This is someone that may need to step up if the opposing team can stop one of the main attackers.

Chapman has never won the SCIAC tournament.

Signature Wins: Cal Lutheran and La Verne.

Awards: Sophie Srivastava (D3VbWest Freshman of the Year)(D3VbWest All-Region)(SCIAC Newcomer of the Year)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Jessi Lumsden (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Lauren Friend (All-SCAC 2nd Team)

#4 University of La Verne Leopards (18-10 and 10-6 SCIAC)

The University of La Verne leads the conference in Aces per Set, Assists per Set and is second in Kills per Set. They finished in a tie for 3rd but received the 4th seed based on tiebreakers.

La Verne runs a 5-1 system behind Madison Maynes (2-Time POW) who leads the conference in Assist per Set and Total Assists. The hitter to watch is Kelsie Sievers who leads the team in points and is 1st in conference in Kills per Set, 2nd in Points per Set and 1st in Total Kills. Haley Celaya and Katelyn Winiecki are the other hitting leaders on the team. Kristen Sanchez is the dig leader and is 1st in conference in Digs per Set and Total Digs.

La Verne finished in a tie for 3rd and beat out Pomona-Pitzer for the 4th seed. They will draw CMS who beat them twice already on the season. There is hope as La Verne went to 5-sets in one of the matches.

Unsung Player: Briana Voght is one of the better blockers on the team and if she can be a little more efficient hitting then the Leopards may have the firepower they need to get past CMS.

La Verne has not won the SCIAC tournament.

Signature Wins: UT-Dallas, Cal Lutheran and Chapman.

Awards: Kelsie Sievers (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Kristen Sanchez (D3VbWest All-Region)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Madison Maynes (All-SCIAC 2nd Team) and Haley Celaya (All-SCIAC 2nd Team)

Predictions

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in different things that I miss the obvious. I just realized that the same four teams that made the tournament last year repeated this year. Man, the SCIAC is boring. (That was a joke…it was funny.) Truth be told I’ve worried about CMS all year but their will to win just seems to take over. Playing at home I think they take a close one over La Verne but the Leopards do have a chance here. Frankly, I think La Verne has the best chance of the three teams of taking down CMS. Cal Lutheran and Chapman all comes down to whether the Regals can get a hitter to step up other than Roberts and Haddad. I’ve bet against Cal Lu all year so I won’t do it here, the Regals win in 5-sets. I think CMS beats Cal Lutheran at home but it will be a good one.

 

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