DIII Women's Volleyball

A source for NCAA Division III women's volleyball info and opinion, with a focus on the Midwest and Central regions

Archive for August 2011

Happy opening day eve

Now that all of the prognostication is out of the way, we can finally get to the good part. First official serves for many teams are Sept. 1. I’ll once again be tracking Midwest and Central region standings, top matchups, statistics, Last Team Standing and more.

As a primer, here are my top five matches this week. See the Standings, Matchups page each week for more.
1. Carthage vs. Concordia-Moorhead (9/3)
2. UW-Platteville vs. Southwestern (9/3)
3. Elmhurst vs. Chicago (9/2)
4. UW-Eau Claire vs. Carthage (9/2)
5. St. Olaf vs. St. Scholastica (9/1)

Like the past two seasons, the Standout Stats page will track all Midwest and Central region players who reach 10 blocks, 20 kills, 30 digs and 50 assists. And the Last Team Standing page will track undefeated teams from across in the country to see who is the last to enter the loss column.

For now the Links to Conference Tourneys page is set to send you to each Pool A conference’s home page. The links will change to conference tournaments when those links are available.

Looking for a Midwest and Central region match online? Try the Live Audio/Stats/Video page as a starting point. If that fails, use the team links on the right rail to find those events.

Now that the prognostication, the blog refresher course and the plugging of wares is completed, let the games sets begin.

Feedback and comments are always welcome. Don’t be shy. I hope you stop by often. If you like it, please tell your friends. If your friend is a sports information director with an available job, please tell her or him twice. Happy volleyball, everyone.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 31, 2011 at 12:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

MIAC coaches tab Concordia as team to beat

Concordia-Moorhead received eight of 12 first-place votes and finished atop the MIAC preseason coaches’ poll. St. Thomas, the 2010 regular season co-champion, got three top votes and claimed second in the poll. St. Olaf, last year’s regular season co-champ and MIAC Playoff winner, was first on one ballot and placed third in the poll. In order, Saint Benedict, Saint Mary’s and Bethel rounded out the top six.

I also have Concordia as the top team, and I’m curious to see how St. Thomas and St. Olaf reloaded in the off season. St. Thomas loses seven seniors from the program’s first national finals team of a year ago. Gone are setter Emily Foster, the two-time MIAC Player of the Year and four-time all-MIAC performer; two-time all-MIAC middle Jill Osborne; and three other hitters on the 2010 all-MIAC squad. St. Olaf loses three-time all-MIAC setter Kelly Prunty and three-time all-MIAC outside Kim Smisek but returns the rest of its roster.

It’s been a while since the MIAC had a clear-cut favorite in my mind. In recent years cases could be made for a few teams in the preseason coaches’ poll. Partly due to circumstance and much to do with talent, I think Concordia is easily the team to beat this season. Concordia is currently just outside my preseason Top 10, but with nonconference matches against Juniata, Washington and Colorado, that could change rather quickly. Besides Concordia, I have a wait-and-see approach to the other MIAC teams in terms of national ranking. Another team or two will step up, but for now I only have Concordia in my top 30 teams.

The Cobbers returns its starting lineup from a team that finished one win from the MIAC regular season title. Leading the way for Concordia will be two senior two-time all-MIAC selections: outside Jenna Green and middle Katie Vohnoutka.

Saint Benedict will be a wild card with a young team in its second year under head coach Nicole Bess. Sophomore setter Kathryn Gaydos is the sole all-MIAC performer to return for the Blazers. Saint Mary’s loses three-time all-MIAC outside Jessica Mate, two-time All-America right-side Sarah Gardner, its longtime starting setter and four other seniors, leaving senior middle Amy Kujak as the only returning all-MIAC player for the Cardinals. Bethel returns a veteran team highlighted by two-time all-MIAC outside Nicole Wriedt.

St. Thomas, St. Olaf and Concordia were 2010 NCAA Tournament participants. St. Thomas hosted a regional and swept Puget Sound, UW-Eau Claire and St. Olaf on its way to its first regional title. The Tommies were swept by Juniata in the opening round of the NCAA final tournament. St. Olaf beat Northwestern (Minn.), 3-2, and swept Whitworth before being swept by host St. Thomas in the regional final. Concordia was swept by Whitworth in the opening round of the St. Thomas Regional.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

IIAC: No surprises here, the coaches like Wartburg

Wartburg received seven first-place votes from IIAC coaches and picked up the preseason bulls-eye as the favorite. Cornell accounted for the other two top votes and placed second. Loras, Central and Simpson rounded out the top five.

Wartburg returns its starting lineup that included the Sieck sisters, setter Ramey and outside Britlyn, and outside Kamille Van Natta. Everyone knows that I’ve been on the Knight bandwagon for a while now, so I’ll just write that I agree with the coaches’ choice.

Then again this is the IIAC, a volleyball peer to many top conferences. There aren’t many breaks in the IIAC schedule, and once again I agree with the coaches; if there’s a team that will challenge Wartburg for the title, it’s Cornell, which loses its longtime setter but returns outside Kathleen O’Connor, the dynamic IIAC Freshman of the Year.

Loras, last year’s IIAC regular season champion, will also be in the mix despite losing 2010 IIAC Player of the Year Kate Russell. The Duhawks return all-IIAC players at setter and outside.

Wartburg tied for third in the regular season last year but won the IIAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Knights swept UW-Whitewater before falling, 3-1, to eventual regional champion Washington in the second round at the Carthage Regional.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

UMAC: St. Scholastica merely a slight favorite

UMAC coaches like the the Saints, but the preseason nod was far from resounding. St. Scholastica, the 2010 UMAC undefeated regular season champion, received five of the eight first-place votes but won the poll by just three points over Minnesota Morris, which nabbed one first-place vote. Last season’s UMAC Tournament champion and perennial contender, Northwestern, got one first-place vote and finished third in the poll. Martin Luther accounted for the remaining top vote and placed fourth in the coaches’ poll.

I’m not entirely sure how or why the voting was so close. I think St. Scholastica is not only the best UMAC team but a Top 25 candidate. It’s a program on the rise, but I’m sure the national – and probably the regional – star makers will overlook the Saints. That’s unfortunate because from what I’ve seen over the past two years, this team can play with just about any other.

Of the 12 players on last season’s all-UMAC First Team, six return. St. Scholastica is home to four of them. The Saints return outside Paige Hardy, the 2010 UMAC Player of the Year, and three other First Team all-UMAC players, only one of whom will be a senior this year. Another Saint junior-to-be was named to the Honorable Mention team. Not only are they talented, they’re relatively young.

Martin Luther returns First-Team middle Emily Boldt and outside Rebecca Engelbrecht, the 2010 UMAC Rookie of the Year. First-Team outside Chelsea Koth returns for Northwestern, which loses seven seniors from 2010. Three Honorable Mention selections are back for Minnesota Morris.

Second-seeded Northwestern swept St. Scholastica in the 2010 UMAC Tournament final and received the program’s first NCAA bid. The Eagles led 10-8 in the fifth set but lost, 3-2, to St. Olaf in the opening round of the St. Thomas Regional.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NAC: Dominican solid favorite in coaches’ poll

A year after winning the NAC Tournament and earning an NCAA bid for the first time, the Stars are the coaches’ pick in 2011. Dominican received seven of the 13 first-place votes. Last season’s regular season champion, Concordia Wisconsin (four first-place votes), and Edgewood (two) tied for second in the poll, followed by Benedictine and Wisconsin Lutheran in a tie for fourth.

If you didn’t read it, Edgewood is my pick to win.

Dominican steamrolled through the 2010 NAC Tournament with three sweeps, but the Stars faced UW-Platteville at the Carthage Regional and fell in three sets. Dominican and Edgewood tied for second place during the 2010 regular season.

The favored Stars return First-Team all-NAC setter Jessica Guerrieri; the NAC Freshman of the Year, outside Claire Dezelski; and outside Jacy Lawrence, who missed about one-third of last season due to injury.

Edgewood lost one senior from its second-place team and First-Team outside Mallory Palmer highlights the potential returnees. Concordia Wisconsin will rely on a several new leaders after losing five all-NAC players from 2010.

I think it will come down to Dominican and Edgewood for the title. I concede that Dominican is a safer choice, but I’m impressed how much this Edgewood program has improved over the years. My hunch is that the Eagles put it all together this season, but it remains to be seen how they do with loftier expectations.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

UMAC to host online chat

Most UMAC coaches will conduct a chat on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Last season the conference debuted the chat feature, which led to the unveiling of the preseason poll. The release didn’t mention the poll this time around, but I think the timing of the chat would make the poll’s release around that event likely.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

WIAC: SID’s pick UW-Whitewater

WIAC sports information directors eschewed popular sentiment and chose UW-Whitewater to win the conference. UW-Platteville, mine and many other fans’ pick to win, finished fourth in the poll. The Pioneers are ranked ninth in the nation in the AVCA preseason poll. I think for good reason. I have Platteville ranked No. 6 in the country.

UW Oshkosh was picked by the SID’s to finish second, followed by UW-Eau Claire, Platteville and UW-River Falls. I agree with the top five in the nine-team WIAC, but my order would be:
1. Platteville
2. Whitewater
3. Eau Claire
4. Oshkosh
5. River Falls
A case could be made for a reshuffling of teams two through five, but I was shocked to not see Platteville as the favorite.

Whitewater received three first-place votes. Oshkosh led the way with four top votes and Platteville snagged the other two.

Whitewater loses WIAC Player of the Year Caitlin Hogan. Oshkosh will be without most of its hitting options from a year ago. Eau Claire loses its setter, libero and top outside. River Falls returns most of its lineup. Granted, Platteville loses some good players, including outstanding outside Melissa Hillebrand. But I think the SID’s vastly underestimated Platteville’s returnees.

Eau Claire and Oshkosh shared the 2010 regular season title. Third-seed Platteville won the WIAC Tournament.

Platteville, Eau Claire, Oshkosh and Whitewater were 2010 NCAA Tournament participants.

Platteville swept Dominican and host Carthage before being swept in the regional final by Washington. Eau Claire swept Nebraska Wesleyan before being swept by host St. Thomas in the second round. Oshkosh was swept by host Carthage in the first round. Whitewater was swept by Wartburg in the first round at the Carthage Regional.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Monmouth tops divided MWC coaches poll

Monmouth received five first place votes to edge St. Norbert and Lake Forest. St. Norbert, my choice to win the conference, got two first place votes and landed in the second spot. Lake Forest was picked third after collecting one first place vote. Defending MWC Tournament champion Beloit got the two remaining first place votes and placed fourth in the poll.

Much like the coaches, I had a tough time predicting a winner in the MWC. As suggested by the poll, I agree that any of the top four teams could win it. I concede that Monmouth, last season’s co-champion and No. 1 seed at the MWC Tournament, may have the edge on paper with its returning players. But I think St. Norbert’s superior defense will win out.

Beloit, the 2010 regular season co-champion, won the MWC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Bucs lost to Washington, 3-0, at the Carthage Regional.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

AVCA preseason Top 25: Calvin in a landslide

The AVCA released its preseason Top 25, and it has defending champ Calvin at No. 1. The Knights return just about everyone. So do top contenders Emory and Washington. Calvin got 23 of the 24 first-place votes. I understand it, but as you know, I picked Emory and Washington ahead of Calvin in my preseason poll. Before the season starts I think you can make a case for any of the top three teams. If Calvin is the overwhelming choice, you’ll get no complaint from me.

I had a rant ready to publish, but I’ll just write that I wish there was more prognostication in the AVCA preseason poll. I think that’s the beauty of polls – a collective produces a group-think. I disagree with the collective opinion on many teams. That’s healthy and expected. I also stand by my Top 10 and my next 20.

The AVCA Top 10: Calvin, Emory, Washington, Christopher Newport, Wittenberg, Juniata, Eastern, Cal Lutheran, UW-Platteville, St. Thomas.

Other Midwest/Central teams receiving votes: 11. Carthage; 14. Concordia-Moorhead; 16. St. Olaf; 20. UW-Eau Claire, 24. UW-Whitewater; 25. Chicago; Wartburg (RV); Nebraska Wesleyan (RV); UW Oshkosh (RV).

What are your opinions on the AVCA poll?

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 18, 2011 at 12:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

SLIAC: Greenville picked to repeat

The SLIAC coaches chose the Panthers over Spalding. For the record, I also like Greenville this season. Greenville returns several key players but loses two-time SLIAC Player of the Year Jessica Dothager to graduation.

Greenville won its first SLIAC tournament title last season and ended the season with a 26-6 record, which included an 18-match winning streak heading into regionals. The Panthers lost to Heidelberg, 3-1, in their regional opener.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

August 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: