Two conferences in the books! You can find the SCAC statistics here and the SCIAC statistics here. With this post we’ll dive into the NWC. As we’ve seen in the previous two posts, the statistics loss was pretty similar between the conferences…that will not be the case with the NWC. As a reminder…
I’ve done this for a number of years now with some success. History has shown that a loss in total points of 45% or more is a good indicator that a team is going to suffer in the upcoming season. This is by no means ironclad because you never know what a team has sitting on the bench or what fantastic recruit may be coming in that can help right away but it’s typically a number to avoid. On the flip side, teams that lose 10% or less points will typically have an improved season. I will also share the 2017 data and how that impacted teams this past season. I include assists and digs in the statistics below but it always seems like teams are better prepared to overcome these losses.
Here is the chart showing the teams in the NWC with their 2018 records and their statistics loss in points, assists and digs.
|Lewis & Clark||13-10||57.9%||53.4%||51.9%|
Whoa. That is a lot of statistics leaving the NWC this year.
Whitman is going to hurt in 2019 as they lose 4 contributing seniors. To top it off, they have no juniors on the team so the burden of making up these lost statistics will fall to the underclassmen. My best guess is that we’ll see a drop off next year but the Blues should be in a position to make a run in 2020.
Lewis & Clark had a really nice 2018 season but they will lose Kortney Meyer and a number of other good players. One thing the program did prior to last year, which will pay dividends in 2019, was increase their roster size as they had 9 freshmen get time last season. It will be interesting to see how many will embrace the opportunities available next season. The Pioneers will most likely struggle next year but with their larger roster they are in better shape than in past years.
Prior to last year I would predict doom and gloom for the Lutes looking at these statistic loss numbers but 2018 Whitworth and Cal Lutheran have made me more cautious. The question is whether the depth on the bench is ready to step up? I think 20 wins will be tough for Pac Lu in 2019 but I believe in this program enough to think that they will still be competitive for the NWC title.
This will be the second year in a row where Whitworth is over the 45% mark and that is really tough to overcome. Is there another Jessica Schmautz on the bench? Senior setter Erin White has an extra year of eligible so will she stick around for one more semester? The Pirates do have a couple of really good players left on the roster so although I do expect a drop off in 2019, they should still be in the top half of the conference.
George Fox loses a lot but there are four teams that have it worse than they do in the NWC. They had a slight uptick in record in 2018 and a really good player (Danyle Dupray) returning that could see even more work heading her way next year. I expect the Bruins to hold steady next season as a number of their freshmen fill the holes left due to graduation.
I’m certainly no expert on talent evaluation, although I pretend to be, but I LOVED Ellie Parker’s setting. It was always fun to tune in a Boxer match and see her sets to the pins. So, although I say that overcoming the loss of a setter is easier than replacing hitting, I have to wonder how this might impact Pacific next year. Pacific has a large bench, a JV program to pull from and a couple of great hitters returning so I think they should be in the running for the title next season but the Ellie Parker cloud will hang over my head until I see their first match.
Linfield under performed last season but I think a lot of that can be contributed to the emotion of the 2017 season as they played their last season under Coach Kimura. So, trying to figure out the 2019 version of Linfield is a little tough. They are in a position to take a big step forward and when you couple that with all of the statistics loss of the other teams then you really have to wonder how high can they finish.
The NWC team to watch in 2019 may be the Loggers of Puget Sound. They return the bulk of their team and their underclassmen received a lot of playing time in 2018. They have a huge roster so additional players could step up to fill in the holes and every team that finished higher than them has more statistic losses. You heard it here first.
Willamette improved by a couple of wins in 2018 and are in a position to increase that total in 2019. They also return the bulk of their team so finishing in the top half of the conference seems very probable.
Looking at the NWC as a whole and they are in a bit of trouble. There is a lot of really good seniors graduating and it’s going to be really interesting to see how the traditional powers of Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth handle it. Do they leave the door open enough for Pacific or Puget Sound to push through? Can a team like Willamette surprise the conference next season? The recruiting season is going to be really important to a number of teams in the NWC and how they end up finishing the year.
Now, let’s take a look at the statistics loss in 2017:
|Lewis & Clark||2-21||21.9%||2.4%||4.2%|
Puget Sound did really well to hold steady in 2018 and a lot of that credit goes to the underclassmen. With that said, the Loggers didn’t end the season well so that’s a big red flag. For now, I chalk that up to the lack of experience as they were in the hunt for the NWC title before losing 6 of 7 matches. I guess my 45% mark is 0 for 2 last season in this conference as Whitworth proved me wrong, too. I will say it again; if you have a Jessica Schmautz sitting on the bench then you don’t really have to worry too much about what you are losing. It’s just that it doesn’t happen very often. No other big surprises except for Linfield, which should have done better based on the statistics.
That’s three conferences done and it appears that the NWC will take a step back next year but it should be exciting to see if there is a shakeup at the top of the standings.