When I was doing my homework for the conference previews/predictions posts (coming soon to a website near you) I realized that I didn’t do a write-up on the Trinity schedule.
Trinity always has one of the tougher schedules in the nation and this year is no different. They are fortunate enough to be hosting two tournaments with really good teams and they will also take a trip out to the Illinois Wesleyan tournament in September. For the first weekend, Trinity starts off by hosting Cabrini, Gustavus Adolphus, UW-Stevens Point and Aurora. Cabrini was good enough to be the 11th ranked team out of the Mid-Atlantic Region and although they suffer some graduation loss to their hitting they are probably good enough to repeat their success from last season. Cabrini was also in the NCAA Tournament as they won their conference Pool A bid. Gustavus Adolphus is a top 10 team for me going into the season and will be a good test for the Tigers. UWSP has lost a lot of hitting due to graduation but is always a strong team. Aurora is a top 15 team for me and another great test. Going 4-0 this first weekend probably shoots Trinity into the Top 10 of the AVCA poll.
During the week, Trinity will play at Schreiner in an early conference match that shouldn’t prove to be too difficult. For the second weekend, Trinity again hosts a tournament where they will play teams from the SCIAC and the ASC. The Tigers draw La Verne first, followed by CMS, Concordia and then UT-Dallas. La Verne should be looking at a top 3 finish in the SCIAC and will be a bubble team for an NCAA bid this year. Defending champions, CMS, are always tough and this is going to be a really important West Regional matchup. Concordia is a decent team out of the ASC but this should be the easiest match of the weekend. UT-Dallas (like CMS) is a top 15 team for me and another great test.
The third weekend starts the SCAC conference play in earnest and the Tigers will face Southwestern and Colorado College twice during the year. Trinity catches a bit of a break as all of these matches will be on neutral courts with one home match coming against Colorado College.
Mixed in with the conference play, Trinity finds time to go to Illinois Wesleyan where they will play Chicago, IWU, Rose-Hulman and Millikin. Both Chicago and IWU are in my top 20 while Rose-Hulman should be a solid test. Millikin is coming off an outstanding 2017 season but suffers some significant graduation losses going into this year. Trinity will also play another top 20 team in UMHB towards the end of October.
So, how does this all add up? Trinity will end up playing 11 matches against teams that I have in my preseason top 25 during the regular season. With the addition of JWU (Denver) to the SCAC I anticipate the conference will experience a bit of a drag to their strength of schedule (SOS). Trinity seems to be immune to this, however, with this outstanding schedule. Without spoiling my SCAC preview post, Trinity is going to be a little better than I thought when I put together my top 25 so I expect them to do well against these top teams. The only negative in the schedule is the lack of matches against the NWC, but you can’t have everything. With this schedule, Trinity takes on the top teams from both the ASC and the SCIAC as well as a number of great teams nationally. We will definitely have enough data points to properly rank the Tigers in both the West RAC and the nation.