Here is the 2021 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 31. A “Signature Win” is a win against a regionally ranked team or a key win in conference.
The ASC is using their 6-team single-elimination format they rolled out in 2019 but because they went to one division this season, the teams qualifying will all be based on their regular season order. (Two divisions in the past made things unequal.) The tournament starts on Thursday, November 4 with seeds 4 and 5 playing and seeds 3 and 6 playing in the quarterfinals. The winners will play Friday against the top 2 seeds, who receive a bye, and the final will be on Saturday. The tournament is hosted by Mary Hardin-Baylor because the ASC awards this honor to the regular season champion.
Sul Ross State and ETBU start things off at 5 pm on Thursday followed by Concordia and LeTourneau at 7:30 pm. ETBU and Sul Ross State have played home and home this season with ETBU winning both in 5-sets. This match could be the best one of the entire tournament. Concordia and LeTourneau will face off in the late match. These teams have split their matches with both winning at home; LeTourneau winning in 5-sets and Concordia winning in 4. Host school Mary Hardin-Baylor will be playing the winner of Sul Ross State/ETBU. The Cru beat both teams during the season with only ETBU getting a set off the regular season champions. UT-Dallas beat LeTourneau twice and Sul Ross State once as their second match was cancelled. Only LeTourneau has won a set off of UTD. Assuming the two top seeds advance, it should be a good one as these teams split their season series each winning on the away floor. Top to bottom, I think this conference tournament will be the most competitive in Region X.
#1 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (23-1 and 17-1 ASC)
Mary Hardin-Baylor leads the conference in Digs/Set (10th nationally), Hitting Percentage and Opposing Hitting Percentage. In the other categories, they are second or third with the exception of Blocks/Set where they are 5th.
UMHB runs a 5-1 offense behind Alli Pierce although she missed their last match and if that continues then expect Ella Brunson to take over. Hannah Frasca is the hitter to watch as she leads the team in Points/Set, Kills and Digs/Set. I believe she’s the best player in the conference although she didn’t win Player of the Week (POW) honors this season. The other big hitter is Kayla Janikula (3-Time POW) who is second on the team in Points/Set, Kills and Blocks/Set. She leads the team and the conference in Hitting Percentage (11th nationally). You also have to watch out for middle Kylie Metcalf (1-Time POW). Defensively, the Cru have three players over 300 digs in Frasca, Maddie Gillispie and Alyssa Christiansen.
UMHB didn’t play the toughest schedule on the season with their biggest victory being Birmingham-Southern who is regionally ranked in Region VI. Part of the reason for the schedule is being safe due to the pandemic and the change to the ASC alignment, which caused a number of teams problems with a lack of weekends to play out-of-conference. Bottom line for this team, however, is that they just didn’t lose outside of one match with UT-Dallas. They get the #1 seed and a bye in the tournament and will play the winner of the Sul Ross State/ETBU match.
This will be the Cru’s 14th appearance and they are the defending champions having won in the spring of this year. They have won 4 overall titles.
Signature Wins: Birmingham-Southern and UT-Dallas.
Awards: Alli Pierce (ASC Setter of the Year)(All-ASC 2nd Team), Kayla Janikula (All-ASC 1st Team), Hannah Frasca (All-ASC 1st Team), Kylie Metcalf (All-ASC 2nd Team) and Maddie Gillispie (All-ASC HM)
#2 University of Texas-Dallas Comets (15-9 and 13-4 ASC)
UT-Dallas leads the conference in Assists/Set and Kills/Set. They are second in Aces/Set and Hitting Percentage.
UTD runs a 6-2 offense behind Sydney Fitt and Mikayla Cho. Not to be outdone by UMHB, Sydney Fitt also missed her last match and was replaced by Izzy Sundquist. Something to watch with the top two teams in the conference. The Comets are led in hitting by Catherine Croft and Allison Owen (1-Time POW). These two players have almost identical hitting statistics this season as they are 1 and 2 in Points/Set and Kills. Defensively they are led by Rachel Baxter (1-Time POW) who is third in the conference in Digs/Set. Keep an eye on Madison Ball who missed most of September but is contributing both offensively and defensively since her return. Brynne Blackmar has also returned after an early season injury. Depending on Fitt, the Comets could be getting healthy at the right time.
UTD also struggled with the change to the ASC scheduling but they did attend a good tournament to start the year. Unfortunately, injuries contributed to a disappointing result. They then hosted a tournament the following week and were able to take down a good Aurora team but overall, a tough start for this team. They have gone 8-1 to close out the season and have earned the #2 seed and a bye in the tournament. They will play the winner of the Concordia/LeTourneau match.
This will be the Cru’s 18th appearance which has led to 6 championships including 4 in the last 6-years.
Signature Wins: Aurora and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Awards: Allison Owen (All-ASC 1st Team), Catherine Croft (All-ASC 1st Team), Abby Jones (All-ASC 2nd Team), Gabi Sommerfield (All-ASC 2nd Team), Sydney Fitt (All-ASC 2nd Team) and Rachel Baxter (All-ASC HM).
#3 LeTourneau University Yellowjackets (16-9 and 11-7 ASC)
LeTourneau finished the season first in the conference in Blocks/Set and second in Digs/Set. They had a C-Word scare to the start the year which caused a cancellation of a match and had them missing key players early.
LETU will run a 6-2 offense behind setters Samantha Winkel and Natalie Davenport but also look for Reina Lawson who has gotten time at the position. The main hitter to watch is Kianna Crow (1-Time POW) (3.58 P/S and 3.11 Digs/Set) who is a 6-rotation outside but you also have to worry about Kaci Monk and Natalie Connelly (first in the conference in Blocks/Set). Defensively they have Courtney Edge (1-Time POW) who is second in the conference in Digs/Set. The Yellowjackets had a rough start to the year and then hit a bump in mid-October but their 4-set win over Sul Ross State at home this past week indicates things are better. It will need to be as they take on one of the hotter teams in the conference in Concordia.
LETU continues their ASC Tournament run which now is 4-years straight. A lot of that is from the hard work of their 4-year seniors; Crow and Connelly. They have received help from three 2-year seniors in Edge, Fowler and Cobb. For their season to continue they will need to defeat Concordia who they have split with on the year.
This is LeTourneau’s fifth appearance in the tournament and fourth straight. They have yet to win a title.
Signature Win: None.
Awards: Kianna Crow (All-ASC 1st Team), Kaci Monk (All-ASC 3rd Team), Courtney Edge (All-ASC HM) and Hannah Payan (All-ASC HM).
#4 East Texas Baptist Tigers (13-10 and 11-7 ASC)
ETBU was second in Opposing Hitting Percentage and third in Blocks/Set. They had their best conference record since 2015 and have a nice mix of youth and experience on the team.
ETBU will run a 6-2 offense behind setters Kaylee Morton and Maddison Harris and also have Jenna Helms to run out, if needed. The offense is powered by first-year phenom Avery Reid (1-Time POW) who was 3rd in the conference in Kills/Set and Points/Set. The Tigers also have Kayla Rainey and a player that has proven to have outstanding matches in Bailey O’Bannon (2-Time POW) and who is 2nd in the conference in Blocks/Set. Defensively they have Lillie Hill (1-Time POW) who is 5th in the conference in Digs/Set. Be careful about getting this team in a fifth set as they are 6-2 on the season when this has happened.
ETBU will draw a tough opponent in Sul Ross State in the first round but the Tigers did beat them twice on the year. On the flip side, both matches went 5-sets (told you) so they will need everyone contributing to make it through. As I said at the top, this could be the best match in the entire tournament.
This will be the conference leading 19th appearance by the ETBU Tigers and second straight. They have won 3 titles but none since 2003. They will look to continue their strong play and continue to build as the program is on the rise.
Signature Win: None.
Awards: Avery Reid (ASC Freshman of the Year)(All-ASC 1st Team), Lillie Hill (All-ASC 2nd Team), Bailey O’Bannon (All-ASC HM), Kayla Rainey (All-ASC HM) and Annie Harris (All-ASC HM).
#5 Sul Ross State Lobos (14-9 and 10-7 ASC)
Welcome back to the Sul Ross State Lobos! The last time they were here it was 2006 and “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter was on the radio. Well, things have gotten a lot better this season. The Lobos finished second in Assists/Set and Kills/Set.
Sul Ross State will run a 6-2 offense behind setters Kamrynn Caruth and Annika Canaba. Canaba also plays middle so it’s an interesting rotation to watch. The hitter to watch is also Canaba (2-Time POW) as she really does it all for this team and is first in the conference in Kills/Set and Points/Set and second in Hitting Percentage. She’s also third in the nation in triple-doubles. Their other main hitters are Taryn Griner and Daniella Garcia. Defensively watch for Faith Herrera and Mia Bella Ruiz. This team is an interesting mix as they only have two seniors in Canaba and Isabella Ruiz. The rest are all first-year players or sophomores. For the Lobos to be successful in the tournament the seniors will need to lead.
As I mentioned (now twice) before, their match with ETBU is going to be a good one. They lost both previous meetings during the season but they each went 5-sets. This is a new experience for everyone on the team and it will be interesting to see if that plays a factor.
This will be the Lobos third appearance but first since 2006. They have not won a title.
Signature Win: None.
Awards: Annika Canaba (ASC Most Valuable Player)(All-ASC 1st Team), Kamrynn Caruth (All-ASC 2nd Team) and Taryn Griner (All-ASC HM).
#6 Concordia University Tornados (10-14 and 10-8 ASC)
Concordia University has struggled most of the season before turning it on in the second half of the season (7-1 to end the year). They are probably the most intriguing team in any of our conference tournaments in Region X this season.
Concordia will most likely run a 5-1 system behind Alyssa Legette who is one of the biggest leapers I’ve seen this season anywhere. She’s listed at 5’2” but plays a foot taller at times. The Tornados have two outstanding hitters in Sarah Ghormley (1-Time POW) and Kylexus Block. Ghormley is second in the conference in Kills/Set and second in Points/Set. Block is 3rd and 6th in those categories. When you look at the defensive statistics, it’s Ghormley and Block that show up there, too, with Legette not far behind. Sandwich between them is Kaityn Ruiz. One player to watch for is Nicole Deering who came out during the Howard Payne match and didn’t play in their last match against UMHB. They need everyone healthy. This team is so reliant on their big three and if all are performing, they can challenge anyone in this tournament. If just one has a bad match, then they are in trouble.
Concordia will get LeTourneau in the first round and they split their series during the year. Their loss was also in 5-sets so they won’t be lacking for confidence despite being the 6th seed.
This is Concordia’s fifth straight appearance in the tournament and this is their 10th appearance overall. They have won the ASC once (in 1999).
Signature Win: UT-Dallas.
Awards: Alyssa Legette (ASC Sportsmanship)(All-ASC 2nd Team), Sarah Ghormley (All-ASC 1st Team) and Kylexus Block (All-ASC 2nd Team).
I hate that I have included this in my conference tournament previews in the past. I have no good feel for this one. I think at home, Mary Hardin-Baylor has to be the pick. When you look at the statistics, they are not that far from UT-Dallas and the Comets have gotten healthier. I just think the emotion of the home court crowd will push this towards the Cru. Outside the top 2 I probably fear Concordia the most. I don’t like the ETBU or Sul Ross State matchup against UMHB. I think UT-Dallas just seems to have LeTourneau’s number if they end up playing. The wildcard is Concordia. If they get their defense going and their outsides pounding and then get another player on offense helping, they could win this thing.
The SCAC tournament begins Friday and concludes on Sunday with 6 teams qualifying. The tournament is being hosted by Trinity University. The hosting duties for this tournament are done on a rotation basis. This is a single elimination tournament with the top 2 seeds (Trinity and Colorado College) earning byes. The other teams that qualified were Southwestern, Texas Lutheran University (TLU), Austin College and St Thomas. St Thomas is still in the reclassification window so if they win this tournament, they will not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The bid will go to the team they beat in the tournament final.
TLU and Austin College will start things off at 3:30 p.m. followed by St Thomas and Southwestern at 6:00 p.m. TLU and Austin College have split their matches this year although Austin College had the advantage of playing at home on one of them (the other was at neutral site, St Thomas). Southwestern beat St Thomas twice this year, both on a neutral court. One of the matches did go 5-sets so nothing is set in stone here. Host Trinity will play the winner of TLU/Austin College. They have beaten both teams twice each. Colorado College will play the winner of Southwestern/St Thomas. They beat Southwestern twice but split with St Thomas. Trinity has beaten Colorado College in both of their matches this year.
#1 Seed Trinity Tigers (29-2 and 16-0 SCAC)
With the dominance we’ve seen from Trinity this season, you would expect that they would be leading the conference in pretty much all of the statistical categories. They do pretty well but have left some for others. They do lead in Blocks/Set (2nd nationally), Hitting Percentage (2nd nationally), Kills/Set (8th nationally) and Opposition Hitting Percentage.
Trinity runs a 6-2 system with setters Marisa Amarino (5th in conference in Assists/Set) and Alexis Acevedo. They have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the offense and I’ve described their team as the Murder on the Orient Express because in the end they will all kill you. It starts with the outsides, Annie Rose Leggett (2-Time POW) and Avery Tuggle (3-Time POW and AVCA POW) who also lead the team in digs and help lock down the service receive. Leggett is first in the conference in Service Aces/Set and 5th in Points/Set. Tuggle is 5th in Hitting Percentage, which is crazy for an outside, and 9th in Points/Set. Other players averaging over 2 Points/Set are Sara Flynn (2-Time POW), Emma Funk (1-Time POW), Sarah Willammee and Emily Ellis (1-Time POW). If Trinity has an issue, it’s that they have too much depth (joke) so watch how the middles are deployed as they work Ellis back into the rotation after a mid-season injury. The Tigers have depth everywhere and that includes libero where they usually run out Nadia Kern but Sami Lin is also an option.
Trinity earned the #1 seed by going undefeated in conference. They will get the winner of the TLU/Austin College match. They have, obviously, beaten both tams in both matches this year.
Trinity last won the SCAC Tournament in 2019 and have won a SCAC record 18 times overall.
Signature Wins: Whitworth, Emory, Northwestern, Colorado College (twice), Endicott, Babson, MIT and Southwestern (twice)
Awards: Avery Tuggle (SCAC Player of the Year)(All-SCAC 1st Team)(AVCA National POW), Annie Rose Leggett (All-SCAC 1st Team), Sara Flynn (All-SCAC 1st Team), Sarah Willammee (All-SCAC 1st Team), Alexis Acevedo (All-SCAC 2nd Team) and Marisa Amarino (All-SCAC 2nd Team).
#2 Seed Colorado College Tigers (28-4 and 13-3 SCAC)
Colorado College led the conference in Aces/Set and Assists/Set (8th nationally) and were 2nd in Hitting Percentage (10th nationally). As we know, you need to be 11th nationally to win the national championship so looking good here.
Colorado College runs a 5-1 system behind setter Jenny Jenks who is first in conference in Assists/Set (3rd nationally). Their top hitter is Georgia Mullins (6-Time POW) who is first in conference in Hitting Percentage, second in Kills/Set and first in Points/Set (11th nationally). She’s also first in the conference in Blocks/Set (16th nationally). Mullins plays middle but has an expanded role of late due to injuries where she now goes across the backrow and can be an attacking force from there, too. It’s not a one woman show, however, as the Tigers have two wonderful outsides in Isabella Lipacis and Isabella Vasquez. Vasquez missed a bunch of matches due to an injury in the middle of the season but is back now. Defensively they have Payton Hummel leading the team in Digs/Set. Unlike Trinity, depth is a bit of a concern with this team but they look to be getting back right-side Meaghan Hohman in time for the tournament.
The Tigers finished 2nd in conference losing both matches to Trinity and were surprised with a loss to St Thomas. They will play the Southwestern/St Thomas winner.
Colorado College has won this tournament 3 of the last 4 seasons and have won 6 tournament titles overall.
Signature Wins: Randolph-Macon, Ithaca, Susquehanna, Southwestern (twice), UC Santa Cruz and Cornell College.
Awards: Georgia Mullins (SCAC Player of the Year)(All-SCAC 1st Team), Jenny Jenks (Setter of the Year)(All-SCAC 1st Team), Isabella Vasquez (All-SCAC 1st Team), Isabella Lipacis (All-SCAC 2nd Team) and Peyton Hummel (All-SCAC 3rd Team).
#3 Seed Southwestern University Pirates (22-4 and 12-4 SCAC)
Southwestern University led the conference in Digs/Set (7th nationally) and finished 2nd in Aces/Set.
Southwestern runs a 6-2 system behind setters Katelyn Whitehead and Claire Romo. The Pirates do spread it around but their leading hitter is Emma White who is 6th in the conference in Points/Set. Other hitters with a 2 P/S average or better are Riley Brantley (6th in conference in Blocks/Set), Lauren Crabtree, Andie Valenzuela (3rd in conference in Hitting Percentage) and Christina Kuras. Defensively the Pirates are led by Ali Grona (2-Time POW) who is second in the conference in Digs/Set. White also has over 300 digs on the season. If the Pirates are going to make a run in the tournament, then watch out for Crabtree who hits one of the hardest balls in the conference.
Southwestern is an NCAA Tournament bubble team that secured the 3rd seed into this conference tournament. Making the finals would certainly help their chances but this continues to be one of the tougher conferences in the nation. They will play St Thomas in the quarterfinals.
Southwestern last won the SCAC Tournament in 2015 and have 5 wins overall.
Signature Wins: Aurora and Carnegie Mellon.
Awards: Emma White (All-SCAC 1st Team), Lauren Crabtree (All-SCAC 2nd Team), Ali Grona (All-SCAC 2nd Team) and Riley Brantley (All-SCAC 3rd Team).
#4 Seed Texas Lutheran Bulldogs (18-12 and 9-7 SCAC)
Texas Lutheran University is second in the conference in Digs/Set (9th nationally) and third in Blocks/Set. They will need to rely on that defense to get them far in this tournament.
TLU plays a 6-2 system behind setters Shavonne Respondek and Adrienne Galaviz. The attack is led by Tanyse Moehrig-Woodard but it’s really a team effort with the Bulldogs. Peyton Sulak missed the early part of the year but she’s been good since being inserted into the team. You also have to watch for Madison Weisinger who is the only senior in this group and will be looking to go out with a nice run. Defensively it doesn’t get much better than Lexi Morris who leads the conference in Digs/Set. The story with TLU is their lack of luck in 5-set matches. They are 1-5 in these matches with two of them being against Colorado College and UMHB. Switch those results and we could be talking about TLU as a possible at-large team.
TLU finished 4th outright and will face Austin College who they split with during the season.
Texas Lutheran has not won the SCAC tournament but this is their third straight appearance.
Signature Wins: None.
Awards: Lexi Morris (SCAC Backrow Player of the Year)(All-SCAC 1st Team), Shavonne Respondek (SCAC Freshman of the Year)(All-SCAC 3rd Team) and Tanyse Moehrig-Woodard (All-SCAC 2nd Team).
#5 Seed Austin College Kangaroos (20-10 and 7-9 SCAC)
Austin College was second in the conference in Blocks/Set (12th nationally). They always seem to be strong in this area.
Austin College runs a 6-2 system behind Brooklyn Talley and Brianne Tseng although Aubree McCune has seen time at setter, as well. Talley is a senior along with libero Mari Prazak (1-Time POW). Other than them, the entire team is basically first-years and sophomores. Offensively, you need to watch for Riley Abernethy who leads the team in hitting. Victoria Smith and honorary granddaughter Olivia Linton complete the tri-wizard sophomore connection in hitting. Overall, the ‘Roos have 6 players with Points/Set at 2 or over and all are underclass(wo)men. Cheyenne Dantonio looks to be out but she was 6th in the conference in Hitting Percentage just recently. Prazak leads the team in digs and is third in the conference in Digs/Set.
When I think of Austin College, I think of 20 wins and they hit that mark again this season. They are the 5th seed for the tournament after struggling at the end of the conference season finishing 1-6 but did end on a high note taking down St Thomas in 4-sets. They draw a tough TLU team in the quarterfinals who they split with during the season.
Austin College has not won the SCAC tournament although I don’t remember a time where they missed out on participating in the fun.
Signature Wins: None.
Awards: Mari Prazak (All-SCAC 2nd Team) and Victoria Smith (All-SCAC 3rd Team)
#6 University of St. Thomas Celts (11-17 and 5-11 SCAC)
This will be the first appearance for St Thomas in the SCAC Tournament. As a reclassifying team, they can win the tournament but are not allowed the automatic qualifier that goes with it. Their statistics are also not loaded in the NCAA database but I know their Blocks/Set would lead the conference along with Trinity.
St Thomas runs a 6-2 system behind Kelsie Walker and Emerson Sykes. Sykes took over for Alaina Lanik who has not played after being injured in the Dallas match in early October. Offensively the team is led by Paige Havel (1-Time POW) and Alyssa Ajlouny. Havel is also the best blocker in the conference, if not the nation, averaging 1.66 Blocks/Set. Teams definitely need to know when she’s on the front row. Leading the defense is Ally Peters. This is a team that can run on emotion if they get a run going and did just that to produce the biggest upset of the season in the SCAC when they took down Colorado College in 5-sets.
St Thomas was able to move past Dallas for the final spot in the tournament and will face Southwestern. They lost both matches to the Pirates but did take them to 5-sets in one match.
As mentioned above, this is the first appearance for the Celts in the SCAC Tournament.
Signature Win: Colorado College.
Awards: Paige Havel (All-SCAC 2nd Team) and Ally Peters (All-SCAC 3rd Team).
This is the 31st SCAC Tournament and besides the first champion who was Rhodes, only Trinity, Colorado College or Southwestern have won. That’s not going to change this year. Trinity’s last home loss was back in 2018 so they have to be the pick here. For the Tigers to lose they have to have an off night and they are just so deep that other players can pick up the slack.
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 Cal Lutheran at 9 p.m. central and Pomona-Pitzer will host Chapman at the same time on Thursday. CMS beat Cal Lu in both matches this season while Pomona-Pitzer and Chapman split their matches.
#1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas (25-1 and 16-0 SCIAC)
Claremont-Mudd Scripps went undefeated in conference play for the first time in their history and in the process led the conference in a number of categories. They include Aces/Set, Assists/Set (1st nationally), Hitting Percentage (1st nationally) and Kills/Set (1st nationally). The NCAA database doesn’t track Points/Set for a team but I know that CMS also leads the nation in this category.
CMS runs a 6-2 system behind setters Georgia McGovern (1-Time POW) and Spencer Hagenbuch. McGovern is third in the conference in Assists/Set. Offensively, CMS poses a bit of a problem to other teams as they have 8 players who are at 2 Points/Set or higher. Jenna Holmes leads the team in hitting and is second in the conference in Kills/Set and Points/Set. Right behind is right side Melanie Williams (2-Time POW) who is third in the conference in Hitting Percentage and then you have outside Jackie Jones (2-Time POW) who is 6th in Hitting Percentage. Other hitters over 2 P/S are Audrey Sawyer (first in conference in Hitting Percentage), Kelsey Polhemus, Brenna Bell, Izzy Sakoda and Summer Ellis. The good news for other teams is that CMS can’t play all of them at once. The bad news is that CMS is deep enough to withstand injuries at almost every position. Defensively, Dede Carranza (1-Time POW) had to come on towards the middle of the year to take over the libero position and has done very well.
CMS went undefeated in conference and only lost one match all year (to Calvin on their court) so I don’t expect them to struggle at home against Cal Lutheran.
CMS is the top seed for the 4th straight year and is the defending SCIAC champion. They have four tournament wins in their history.
Signature Wins: UC Santa Cruz, Washington-St. Louis, Trinity, Emory, Pomona-Pitzer (twice), Hope and Ohio Northern
Awards: Jenna Holmes (SCIAC Newcomer of the Year)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Audrey Sawyer (All-SCIAC 1st Team), Melanie Williams (All-SCIAC 1st Team), Jackie Jones (All-SCIAC 2nd Team) and Georgia McGovern (All-SCIAC 2nd Team)
#2 Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (17-9 and 13-3 SCIAC)
Pomona-Pitzer, along with CMS, are the only teams in the SCIAC with a winning overall record this season. Statistically, they were first in the conference in Blocks/Set (5th nationally) and in Opposition Hitting Percentage.
The Sagehens ran a 6-2 system behind Adrienne Tong and Kylie Mies. Offensively they had first-year Chloe Gill lead the team and who was also 5th in the conference in Kills/Set and Points/Set. Paige Wilson and Grace Fan were next up with Fan finishing first in the conference in Blocks/Set and 5th in Hitting Percentage. When playing the Sagehens you also have to be concerned with Kellan Hayes (5th in Blocks/Set) and Naomi Chen-Mallouk. Defensively, they have one of the best liberos in the conference in Lauren Asato (2-Time POW) who was second in conference in Digs/Set. After an 0-4 start to the season, the Sagehens have gone 17-5 and probably present the best chance at upsetting CMS in the tournament.
Pomona-Pitzer will host Chapman who they just swept on the last day of conference play. Chapman did win the first meeting so the Panthers are not out of this at all. One minor issue for the Sagehens is that they are getting a new arena so they’ve been playing at Harvey Mudd and at CMS. I assume this match will also be at CMS.
This is the sixth appearance for Pomona-Pitzer but have never advanced to the conference final.
Signature Wins: Whitworth.
Awards: Lauren Asato (SCIAC Defensive Player of the Year) (All-SCIAC 1st Team), Chloe Gill (All-SCIAC 1st Team) and Grace Fan (All-SCIAC 2nd Team)
#3 Chapman University Panthers (12-12 and 10-6 SCIAC)
Chapman University doesn’t lead a statistical category but they are second in Assists/Set, Digs/Set, Hitting Percentage and Kills/Set.
Chapman runs a 6-2 system behind setters Sophie Srivastava (1-Time POW) and someone else. I say “someone else” because the Panthers have a number of players that have filled the role including Jenna Richardson, Chanel Sud and Angela Atis. The hitter to watch is Jessi Lumsden (2-Time POW) who leads the conference in Kills/Set and Points/Set. Srivastava is the other hammer on this team when she rotates to the front row. She is 7th in Kills/Set and Points/Set and is second in the nation in triple-doubles. Another player to watch is first-year Maddy Dowdall who is 7th in the conference in Blocks/Set. Defensively Cat Helgerson (1-Time POW) leads the conference in Digs/Set. The Panthers had higher hopes going into the season but they were hampered by the C-Word before they could get out of the gate. If they can get contributions outside of Lumsden and Srivastava they will be a tough team to beat in this tournament.
Chapman went 4-4 in the second half of the conference season to fall into the 3rd seed. They will play Pomona-Pitzer who they split with this season.
Chapman has never won the SCIAC tournament although this is their sixth appearance.
Signature Wins: Pomona-Pitzer.
Awards: Sophie Srivastava (SCIAC Athlete of the Year)(All-SCIAC 1st Team), Jessi Lumsden (All-SCIAC 1st Team) and Cat Helgerson (All-SCAC 1st Team).
#4 California Lutheran University Regals (11-16 and 9-7 SCIAC)
It’s been a bit of a struggle for California Lutheran this year and their statistics reflect that. One area where they do excel is Blocks/Set as they are second in the conference and 10th in the nation.
Cal Lutheran runs a 6-2 behind setters Jenna Jones and Tess Holbert. Their main attacker is Maci Haddad who is second in the conference in Hitting Percentage and fourth in Points/Set. Haddad is also second in the conference in Blocks/Set. After Haddad things get a little dicey although first-year Kennedy Crane has been a nice addition to the team. Another first-year, Sophia Muller, has been getting time of late and has also done pretty well. On the defensive side, Isabella Wade is 4th in the conference in Digs/Set. The Cal Lu/CMS rivalry has become one of the better ones in recent years but the Regals have struggled this season to match up with the Athenas.
Cal Lutheran played a tough schedule prior to conference play but it didn’t translate to more than the 4th seed this year. They will go to CMS for their first-round match.
Cal Lutheran is making their 12th appearance in the tournament and have won 5-times in their history.
Signature Win: None.
Awards: Lauren Heller (SCIAC Character Award), Maci Haddad (All-SCIAC 1st Team) and Isabella Wade (All-SCIAC 2nd Team).
I hate picking all of the one seeds but does anyone think CMS is in trouble here? Pomona-Pitzer has the best chance but I think as long as the Athenas stay focused they will take home another title.
The NCAA has deemed the C2C and all teams to be in Region VI so I’m leaving them alone but it’s a strange setup they have over there. The seeding for their tournament (remember they didn’t play regular season conference matches) is based on the Masey Rankings. I can think of a lot of better ways to do this but, hey, no one asked me. Anyway, the seeding comes out as UC Santa Cruz, Christopher Newport, Mary Washington, Salisbury, Mills College, Finlandia, Pratt and Mount Mary. Since the tournament is held at Mount Mary, they get the 6th seed and Finlandia is bounced. The weird thing is Mills being ranked 5th as they are 0-6 against DIII opponents. Finlandia has 5 wins and Mount Mary 6. Pratt has 13 but I’m not sure they were eligible. I mean good deal for Mills College, I guess. I just hate to see injustice when it comes to tournament selection of any kind.