Continuing with my analysis of the 2018 schedules for some of the top West Region teams.
I actually thought I would have to hold off on further posts since most of them are still unpublished, but after surfing the Dark Web and paying off a number of Latvian hackers (couldn’t afford the Russians), I have acquired the CMS 2018 schedule. Now, I really like the UT-Dallas and Colorado College schedules, but I think we have a new leader in the club house.
The first weekend has the defending national champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas hosting a tournament in their new facility where they will draw Johnson & Wales (Providence), Carthage, Brandeis and, everyone’s favorite team, Southwestern. Not too shabby, right? Let’s backup and start with CMS. Unsure if you know this but they are the defending national champions (and yes I will wear this out because they deserve it!), but I’m still a little worried about them in 2018. They lose over half of their attacking statistics to graduation and half of the Madsen setting tandem. Frankly, I’m unsure if Phoebe Madsen even knows how to set outside as she loses NCAA Tournament MVP Margaux Arntson from her right side. In all seriousness, although the Athenas are losing a lot, I’m sure they see it as just reloading. (And, yes, I know Madsen can set outside…I’ve just never seen it.)
Now, back to those first week opponents and CMS better be reloading because they are starting things off with one of the best teams in the nation with JWU. JWU made it to the Elite 8 last year before losing to Calvin and they are returning pretty much their entire team. Week 1/Day 1/Match 1 may be one of the best matches played during the 2018 regular season for any team in DIII. (Too much? Over the top? I’ll try to calm down.) Carthage, as I discussed in the Chapman analysis, is coming off a fabulous year, as well, but will suffer from graduation loss at about the same level as CMS. Brandeis looks to be the ugly stepsister in this group but they are returning every player and have a great chance to be regional ranked in the New England region by the end of the year. And that leaves us with Southwestern and like Carthage and CMS, they are also reloading. Just a great group of teams for that first weekend.
It would be natural for CMS to back off in the second weekend but they will head to Trinity for matches against UT-Dallas, host school Trinity, UT-Tyler and Texas Lutheran (TLU). As you can read in past posts, I’m in love with UT-Dallas this year so this should be another great match. Trinity is tough to beat at home and Coach Jenkins is no fool for scheduling this one on Friday evening. The student section should be vocal. Trinity is another team that is losing about half of their attacking statistics (plus all everything Kirby Smith) so this will be a great measuring stick for both teams. UT-Tyler knows how to bring the heat. Offensively they are one of the most hard hitting teams I saw last year and should be in pretty good shape heading into 2018. TLU is the most emotional team I witnessed in 2018. Not in a “there’s no crying in volleyball” kind of way but just as a catalyst for their play. When they are going, they can play at a very high level and when they are not they can be dispatched easier than expected. With that said, they are returning pretty much their entire squad and that includes the very dynamic Makenzie Griffin. TLU will be a tough out in 2018.
Whew! What a start to the year, right? Well CMS continues on in week three and hosts another tournament where they will play Emory, UT-Dallas and Washington-St. Louis. Honestly, you could make a case in a preseason poll that these three teams should be in the top five in the nation. UT-Dallas is the one with the most to prove but if their defensive game is back to 2016 standards then watch out. Both Emory and WUSTL return all of their starters and a championship match between these two come November wouldn’t surprise me. I’m not sure there will be a harder schedule in all of DIII then what CMS has put together and I haven’t even talked about the SCIAC, yet.
Sixteen matches against their SCIAC foes that includes Cal Lutheran, La Verne, Whittier and Chapman. Oh, and don’t tell anyone but Pomona and Redlands return the bulk of their attack this year. Last year the SCIAC was the deepest conference in DIII volleyball and it should be fun again in 2018.
Overall this may be the schedule with the highest SOS by the end of the year. The two matches with SCIAC member Caltech may prevent this from happening but CMS has a chance to play around 15 matches against regional ranked teams when it’s all said and done. And this isn’t 15 teams that consist of SUNY Geneseo or Endicott, this includes some of the elite of the elite (that was a dig at the New York and New England regions…pay attention…I move fast). Heck, they may be playing half of the teams that will make the Elite 8 in 2018! (OK, I got excited again. Sorry.)
I will leave you with a quote from our defending national champion coach (Kurt Vlasich), “I have always believed that scheduling tough competition is [the] key to success. This year I tried to challenge ourselves even more than last year. At the end of our run (which included 22 in a row to win it all), I felt the maturity and composure my team showed while being on the road was due to a tough early schedule last year…”
Job well done on the schedule, and (trying to stay calm) it will be wonderful to see some of these outstanding matches take place in the upcoming season.