Continuing with my analysis of the 2018 schedules for some of the top West Region teams.
Many more hours on the Dark Web has resulted in my trusted team of Latvian hackers uncovering one of the schedules I was most looking forward to this year. We turn our eyes towards you, Pacific Lutheran.
Let me get my standard Northwest Conference criticism out of the way right here. You don’t play enough out-of-conference. You don’t play a conference tournament. You stretch your conference matches out too much. No, despite what you may have read on this blog, I don’t really hate you. It’s love really. There, I said it. Sort of like the love a big brother has while trying to stop his baby sister from sticking her hand in the cat’s litter box.
We know that based on the NWC constraints we really only get two weekends to look at and week one has the Lutes playing at the Puget Sound Tournament. Pac Lu (yeah, get use to it Lutes) will draw Wis.-Oshkosh, Elizabethtown, Millikin and rival Puget Sound in a non-conference match-up.
OK, I need to stop everyone for a second while I speak directly at the parents of the teams that will be playing at the Puget Sound Tournament. There is a chance Ricky Nelson from Oshkosh will be at the tournament. He is my leader and this site doesn’t happen without all of the hard work he did on his site. With that said, everyone needs to find him during the tournament and start messing with him. Make sure you ask him why his blog is substantially worse than mine. Ask him what he scored on his driver’s test. Any kind of back handed insult you can give him would bring joy to my heart. Now, it’s possible he’s reading this right now but he’s getting older and he’s going to forget I wrote this (sadly, I will, too). Make sure you have fun at his expense! (Having met some of the deranged Lutes parents I know they will not let me down.)
Back to the action. Oshkosh (out of the WIAC) should be good this year and I actually had them in my much too early Top 25. Their biggest weakness is their assistant SID but they may be able to overcome this. (See, it’s easy. And fun.) Elizabethtown is from the Mid-Atlantic Landmark Conference and are probably a middle of the road team but don’t lose much to graduation. Last year Scranton (also out of the Landmark) showed up down in SoCal and did some damage so the Lutes better not take the Blue Jays lightly. Millikin is coming off a great 2017 but will suffer heavy losses to graduation. This is a team that will most likely be ranked coming into the season so a Lutes victory will get them additional votes. Lutes, you know all about Puget Sound. They are disgusting. A pox on the volleyball world. You hate them. (Note to the Loggers, I’m not sure what their problem is, we all love you.) Pac Lu should be able to handle the Loggers but it’s a rivalry match on their court so nothing is easy. I think Oshkosh will be the main problem this first weekend and it’s important to the NCAA Selection Committee that you win so they can use it as an excuse to exclude all of the WIAC teams from the tournament yet again. (I really feel like I’m extra funny in this post.)
For the second weekend, we knew Pac Lu was heading to Colorado College as we’ve done their schedule write-up already. Pac Lu will draw JWU (Denver), Briar Cliff (?!?!?!), Minnesota-Morris and host Colorado College. JWU (Denver) shouldn’t present any issues for this strong Lutes team as they have lost virtually their entire squad as they begin their path towards DIII certification. Briar Cliff is a mystery to me. I assume it’s the NAIA team but their schedule shows them at a different tournament that weekend. I am going to chalk this up as a poor job by my Latvian hackers and give them all a stern talking to once I find them. As I’ve written before, Minnesota-Morris was a bubble team last year that was left on the outside looking in and I think they can repeat their success in 2018. The jewel of the weekend is Colorado College. The same team that knocked Pac Lu out of the NCAA Tournament but I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge now. (*eye roll*) This will be a great match and Pac Lu might even be better than the Tigers but the Tigers don’t lose at home. (Prove me wrong.) One more thing about this match is that I really see the Tigers and Lutes as two of the stronger teams in the West Regional. The winner will have a season long advantage over not only the other team but, most likely, the loser’s entire conference.
Starting with the third weekend it’s all about conference play within the NWC. As I’ve said in other posts, I expect Pac Lu to be the top team in their conference but Pacific and Whitworth will be tough matches.
I’d really love to see this team find its way over to WUSTL for one of their October tournaments to toughen them up a bit more before NCAA Tournament play and maybe we’ll see that in the future. As it stands, they have Oshkosh, Millikin and Colorado College as quality opponents. Minnesota-Morris is another team that has a great chance to be regional ranked. Not a bad effort for the first two weekends and I like the national opponents. The problem with the schedule is that they only play one team from another West Region conference that has a chance at being regional ranked. This is going to make it really hard for the West RAC to figure out where to regional rank the Lutes and a lot will come down to that result of that Colorado College match.