FAQ

Full disclosure, I have stolen this page from another DIII Women’s Blog but when I first started looking for information on DIII volleyball this was one of the most helpful pages I found.

How many teams make the NCAA Division III women’s volleyball tournament?
In 2018, 64 teams. There were 64 teams in 2011-17, 63 teams in 2010 and 62 teams in 2009.

How do teams qualify for the NCAA tournament?
The NCAA selects teams via Pool A, Pool B and Pool C bids.

What’s a Pool A bid?
Those are the automatic qualifiers from conferences with seven or more full NCAA members. Not all conferences award Pool A bids in the same way, although the vast majority are given to conference tournament outright winners. These are the conferences that will receive Pool A bids (43 total) in 2018:
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference
American Rivers (formally IIAC)
American Southwest Conference
Capital Athletic Conference
Centennial Conference
City University of New York Athletic Conference
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin
Colonial States Athletic Conference
Commonwealth Coast Conference
Commonwealth Conference
Empire 8 Athletic Conference
Freedom Conference
Great Northeast Athletic Conference
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference
Landmark Conference
Liberty League
Little East Conference
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Midwest Conference
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
New England Collegiate Conference
New England Small College Athletic Conference
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletics Conference
New Jersey Athletic Conference
North Atlantic Conference
North Coast Athletic Conference
North Eastern Athletic Conference
Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
Northwest Conference
Ohio Athletic Conference
Old Dominion Athletic Conference
Presidents’ Athletic Conference
Skyline Conference
Southern Athletic Association
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
State University of New York Athletic Conference
University Athletic Association
Upper Midwest Conference
USA South Athletic Conference
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

What’s a Pool B bid?
Pool B bids are awarded to independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic qualification (Pool A).

What’s a Pool C bid?
Pool C is reserved for institutions from automatic-qualifier (Pool A) conferences that are not their conference’s automatic qualifier and the remaining teams in Pool B.

Exactly how many Pool A, Pool B and Pool C bids are awarded?
In 2018 there will be 43 Pool A bids, 2 Pool B bids, 19 Pool C bids.
In 2017 there were 43 Pool A bids, 1 Pool B bid, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2016 there were 43 Pool A bids, 1 Pool B bid, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2015 there were 44 Pool A bids, 0 Pool B bids, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2014 there were 44 Pool A bids, 0 Pool B bids, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2013 there were 43 Pool A bids, 2 Pool B bids, 19 Pool C bids.
In 2012 there were 42 Pool A bids, 2 Pool B bids, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2011 there were 42 Pool A bids, 2 Pool B bids, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2010 there were 42 Pool A bids, 2 Pool B bids, 19 Pool C bids.
In 2009 there were 40 Pool A bids, 3 Pool B bids, 19 Pool C bids.

How is the NCAA D III volleyball tournament structured?
In 2018, the 64 selected teams will play in eight regional tournaments (Nov. 8-10 or 9-11) held on D III campuses. Regionals containing institutions that do not play on Sundays (examples are Calvin, Hope and Northwestern) will be held from Nov. 8-10. All others will be held Nov. 9-11. With 64 teams, all eight regionals will have eight teams.

The winners of the eight regional tournaments play in the final tournament at a predetermined site. In 2018 the final tournament was held Nov. 15-17 at the AJ Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. In 2018 the finals will be seeded as was done last year.

The 2019 finals will be contested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, while the 2020 event will culminate in St. Louis, Mo.

How are regional tournament hosts determined?
The NCAA selects hosts based on bids submitted by schools. The NCAA considers, in no particular order: regional rankings, geographic locations, submitted budgets, available lodging accommodations, quality and seating capacity of the playing facilities among many other criteria.

What are regional rankings?
The NCAA Division III volleyball is broken down into eight geographic regions (Central, Midwest, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New England, New York, South, West). Each of those regions has an advisory committee (with different people making them up each year), consisting of head coaches and/or athletic administrators, that helps the NCAA create a ranking for each region.

The eight committees rank between eight teams and 12 teams, depending on sponsorship numbers in each region. Each region has differing numbers of institutions sponsoring women’s volleyball, so the number of ranked teams can vary from region to region or even year to year.

Those regional rankings are published on the NCAA website during the last three weeks of the regular season. Beginning in 2016, the final regional rankings – the ones that are formed following conference tournaments and used for selection purposes  – will be also be published. In previous years, the final rankings remained unpublished.

The regional rankings are based on teams’ records, opponents’ winning percentages, results against ranked teams, head-to-head results and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentages among other factors.

Each regional advisory committee has a chairperson. Those chairpersons form the national selection committee on selection day. The national committee can alter the regional rankings if they did not conform to the stated selection criteria.

What’s the difference between regional rankings and regular Top 25 rankings?
In short, regional rankings are the rankings that matter. The NCAA publishes three regional rankings – one each week – at the end of the season. Those regional rankings help create the official order for the purposes of selection to the NCAA tournament. Top 25 polls have no bearing on NCAA selections.

In what order are Pool A, Pool B and Pool C bids awarded?
Pool A teams are the first in the NCAA tournament. Then the NCAA selects the Pool B teams, if any. After Pool A and Pool B teams are taken away, every other team, regardless of region or whether they are from Pool B or Pool C conferences, is up for consideration. The basis for selection is the final regional rankings list. The NCAA begins the Pool C process by selecting the best team in the nation of the ones that didn’t earn a Pool A or a Pool B bid.

Eight teams – one team from each region – are up for selection consideration in each round.

Example: The No. 2-ranked teams from each region are up for Pool C selection. Say the No. 2 team from Central Region is selected. Then the No. 2 teams from the previous selection round are still up for consideration against the No. 3 team from the Central. Repeat that process until all 64 slots are full, and that’s how the NCAA arrives at the final 64 teams, which are then grouped into the eight regionals based primarily on geographic location and competitive balance.

Where can I get a harder-to-comprehend version of this information?
The NCAA publishes Handbooks for each sport in each division, detailing how champions are determined.
The 2018 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual can be found here.
The 2017 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual can be found here.
The 2016 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual:  2016DIIIWVB_Pre_Champs_Manual_20160929.
The 2015 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual: 2015DIIIWVB_Prechamps_Manual_20150921
The 2014 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual can be found used to be found here.
The 2013 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual can be found here.
The 2012 version was password protected thus not available to fans without NCAA credentials.
The 2011 NCAA Division III Volleyball Handbook used to be found here.
The 2010 NCAA Division III Volleyball Handbook used to be found here.
The 2009 NCAA Division III Volleyball Handbook used to be found here.

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