D III Women's Volleyball

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

2015 NCAA Division III Championship field released

2015 NCAA Division III Championship field

Any thoughts? I hope to get a chance to absorb it more soon.

The NCAA chose Bethel, Case Western Reserve, Mary Washington and Williams instead of my projections of East Texas Baptist, La Verne, Tufts and Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

I’ll continue to work on the 2015 Regional Guides and post the early versions of them late tomorrow night. Here’s an example of one of last year’s Regional Guides. This year’s Guides will be very similar in content.

-Ricky Nelson


Written by Ricky Nelson

November 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

28 Responses

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  1. Wash U can’t be too happy. Arguably the #1 team in the country travels from STL to LA to be in the Region hosted by one of the two teams who managed to beat them in the regular season.


    November 9, 2015 at 10:27 am

  2. No kidding. Arguably the #1 and #2 teams in the country don’t get to host. Add to that, the Cal Lutheran regional has #3, #9, #10, and #12 ranked teams based on the last poll while the northeast regionals have a #25 in one and the other has a #17. Just plain wrong.


    November 9, 2015 at 10:34 am

  3. Struggling to understand Mary Washington. Bethel and Case over Tufts and ETBU were fine by me.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 10:45 am

  4. And Cal Lu vs Colorado College in first round?


    November 9, 2015 at 10:55 am

  5. It’s all about geographic proximity and flying the fewest number of teams. It’s not about getting the best 8 teams to the championship. Is it right, no. But, that’s the way it is.



    November 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

  6. That’s what I’ve been told but then why fly Wash 2000 miles when you can fly them 1000 miles to the Northeast and actually have some competition in one of those regionals. There isn’t one bubble team in each of those regionals that could be bumped or moved?


    November 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

  7. Things that jump out at me before I go through the West Region:

    1. Four at-large bids from New England. All the credit to that RAC for consistently getting at-large teams into the tournament. My advice to the teams left out, schedule your out-of-region games in that region.

    2. Williams? Wow. Just WOW. All hail the New England RAC.

    3. Oshkosh outside looking in. I knew it was possible but would Oshkosh beat Williams or Mary Washington? Which brings me to…

    4. Mary Washington? I took their high Mid-Atlantic ranking to be a sign that their region wasn’t very deep. I looked at them a couple of times trying to see how they fit into the tournament and never once thought they had a chance. All hail the Mid-Atlantic RAC!

    5. New York Region…see item #1. Oh, but you do have to win.

    With regards to the West Region, I don’t know where to start. Welcome to the west WUSTL. Here are some banana slugs for your third team to nimble on. If you want to fly out just 6 girls and have the rest of the team come in Saturday then that should be fine, too.

    OK, this all comes down to La Verne and ETBU losing to some really bad teams at the end of their season. I believe the RAC ranked La Verne ahead of ETBU in the final ranking. Now, I’ll ask the same question as above, could La Verne (who beat Cal Lu and CMS during the year) or ETBU (who beat CC and SU) beat Mary Washington or Williams? If so, then why fly WUSTL to the west when there are other regions to toughen up? Just select La Verne and save some money. I applaud the NCAA if they looked at the West Region and said they are weak and we are spending the money to make that region harder. But, is that what they think? I mean if I marry last year’s event of not wanting to fly out Southwestern but they are willing to fly in WUSTL (when La Verne is local) then that’s it, right? Maybe the West teams need to fly to the east coast next year (see #1 above).

    I actually understand why ETBU and La Verne are out. The problem is that the west was not deep this year. So, when ETBU and La Verne had problems at the end, you open the door for the NCAA to do something about it if you don’t have a Pac Lu or Trinity to take their place. But, still…I would put up these two teams against at large teams from the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

    I know no one is reading this far…

    I think Colorado College losing meant ranking UTD at #1. I like UTD a lot. They are very good. But the NCAA probably looked at that and said they are not good enough to be a #1 regional seed. Their resume is so-so. Another reason to fly in WUSTL.

    Santa Cruz got what they wanted. A bad team in the NCAA. I know it happens in other regions but it doesn’t happen in the West. This will take some getting use to.

    Finally, the pairings. WUSTL and UTD will have no problems in round 1. The other games are death cage matches. SU and CMS in a repeat of their 5-set match from last month. CC and Cal Lu could be a regional final and a darn good one!

    Finally (yeah…I know but you didn’t read this far anyway), the days of the west and Texas sending double-digit teams to the tournament appear over. The move of the Texas teams from the south to the west has opened up more spots for the rest of the nation and has caused the NCAA to devalue all teams now in the west. Can we get a do-over on this decision?


    November 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

  8. My only hope is that maybe in the next couple years they will fly a team from a stronger region to the Northeast regional. If they are doing it will the West region (which is actually very strong this year and deserves 8 teams!!) maybe they can get over the complaints it would create in the Northeast. I see the huge number of teams in the Northeast causing a problem but one can dream! The quality of teams should matter much more than the number!


    November 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm

  9. CWRU Selection Reaction video:

    Love these…any others out there?


    November 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm

  10. Williams did not have the best results in its sojourn to Whitewater this season. Those Amherst wins were golden this year.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm

  11. Thank you, DIIIFan.
    I will not begrudge the BU and Case bids. Saw them coming as did almost everyone else. My cutoff included those two and Williams actually.
    This isn’t an answer to anything in your comment, but I think we need to reminds ourselves about why the NCAA exists. We can split hairs, but the NCAA championships are about access. D III volleyball is not any different than other sports. Little engines that could get AQs and mid-majors get at-larges.
    D II has its own drawbacks like a strict eight teams from each region.
    However, there are differences of opinion (BU, CWRU and, to a very small extent, even Williams) and then there are stunners like Mary Washington.
    Someone please make the case for UMW. I tried to find the hook that led to that selection, but I’m not seeing the angle. I tried pretty hard, too.
    I’m not saying Team X should have made the field. I’m saying UMW probably should not have. I think there’s a small difference in that line of reasoning. Should it have been La Verne with its two gigantic wins? The large public school from Wisconsin that notched some nice wins and suffered just one questionable loss? It doesn’t matter. It just looks like there was a flaw in the system if UMW is in. Again, pretty please with sugar on top, show that UMW belongs instead of several others (ONU, OWU, Mellon, on down to Augsburg, Edgewood, Millikin, etc.).
    The bracketing is another can of worms. That is what it is, unfortunately. We could go all day on the strength of individual matches and particular regions in relation to others.
    Good luck out there!

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm

  12. DIIIFan,
    I like them too! I’ll try to hunt down some reaction vids tonight. I’ve made a separate post about them in the past.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 3:43 pm

  13. Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

  14. Can anyone please explain how UW Eau Claire is one of the four teams from the WIAC chosen for the tournament.


    November 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm

  15. Very high SOS and wins over Stevens Point, Elmhurst, St. Ben’s, Dominican, Northwestern, Coe.
    The Blugolds were one of my 10 relative “locks.”

    Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

  16. Ricky Nelson

    November 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm

  17. OK Ricky, since you asked I took a look at UMW. first, they were the highest ranked MA team in 11/5 poll that needed a bid. That had to help, being on the list for every round, and giving them a bid prevented an MA shutout.
    Their SOS was .595, 7th best in their region of about 70 teams. That was better than all the schools you mentioned except Millikin at .604.They also had more wins(6) against ranked opponents than any of those schools(2,4,1,2,5,4). Millikin was the the school with 5. To the negative, of those 6 wins, 5 came against schools ranked 6th to 8th. They did play some good teams, but didn’t beat any of them.
    It was probably those base criteria numbers that got them in.
    Here is a scenario, 2 or 3 committee members are each championing a team they like for the last spot, no one is going to give in, another committee person who wants to go home says, OK, what about UMW, the neutral compromise candidate takes the last spot.

    also for the record here are the region and league numbers:

    MW 6, NE 4, SO 3, CE 2, WE 2, GL 2, MA 1, NY 0.

    3 bids
    2 bids
    1 bid
    MIAC(GL), CapitalAC(MA), SCAC(WE), SCIAC(WE)


    November 10, 2015 at 6:33 am

  18. Just a question… would Wash U be any happier going to Whitewater or Calvin? Their region didn’t have enough teams so they had to go somewhere, which means you need to play somebody. California and a relative first round bye are not a bad deal.


    November 10, 2015 at 8:20 am

  19. Being relatively new to the DIII volleyball world, I have to admit I’m pretty perplexed at some fairly glaring gaps in the selection process for the NCAA tournament.

    I suppose the first glaring issue is that 4 (!) top 25 teams are not in the tournament field. I’m racking my brain to figure out how on earth that could be – but to no avail. Is this just the way things are? These rankings must have no relevance and are of zero consequence. But don’t they factor into “quality” wins? If national rankings don’t matter, why have them? So, let’s ignore the pesky “these teams are actually good and universally identified by coaches throughout the U.S. as some of the best teams in the country” line of reasoning for a more parochial (and seemingly political) argument for regional strength of schedules and wins against teams in a particular geographic area. So basically, beating a ranked team (or, hey, just playing against one) is good enough to get you into the tournament, but actually being ranked isn’t good enough to get you into the tournament? To an outside observer, this is puzzling.

    Speaking of politics…Second (and this is just what I understand from the DIII network), some of the teams that keep getting brought up in this conversation as questionable picks have their coaches on the respective selection committees. I believe this includes UMW and Williams. Perhaps I’m off base, but this is about as close to a conflict of interest as there can be in such a scenario. The system allows these types of things to happen, it seems.

    And finally, the system. I feel like it can be better. I suppose I’m just identifying a problem, and not offering a solution – so I’m open to hearing more about the finer points of the process.

    DIII Peanut Gallery

    November 10, 2015 at 8:22 am

  20. Someone,
    Volleyball is interesting in the fact that a top-ranked team from a region gets shipped.
    The arguments for shipping a top team are obvious– balance the regions, move away from provincialism, etc.
    But in baseball it has been expressly stated that the upper-tier teams will stay in their areas. If a team is needed to fill a regional, a WUSTL VB team would not be shipped. Instead, a Chicago-type team would be the fix in baseball (major airport, lower-ranked team).
    I’m not sure which is the better way of handling things, but regional competition is still the backbone and framework of the division. It’s even expressly stated in the division’s promotional materials.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 9:27 am

  21. NED3,
    Thank you. Those teams I listed were not even the best options. Compare UMW with La Verne, ETBU, UWO.
    Compiling an SOS in not the same in every region. UMW’s SOS was good when compared to its peers. The M-A had a very good advocate for those teams because the Eagles are fortunate to be in.
    Base numbers need investigating. Surface numbers are not enough. It’s not “wins against” ranked opponents. It’s “results.” Wins are nice, but “results” requires a magnifying glass.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

  22. Peanut,
    You’re right. It’s counter-intuitive, but national polls have no bearing on the selections. Conference standings – in and of themselves – also do not matter.
    The conflict of interest bit also has a safeguard. Whenever a committee member’s team is being discussed, he or she is supposed to absolve from the discussion. In at least one other sport, that coach (or administrator or SID) must leave the conference call entirely until discussion of that team has ended.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 9:41 am

  23. I doubt that anyone would have been happy shipping WashU to Calvin or Whitewater (including Calvin and Whitewater). I think you’re missing the point. I’ll take the point that the region does not have enough teams to fill the bracket so you don’t get to host. But why ship them to a region that already has a #7, #9, #10, #12, and #19? Meanwhile the Clarkson regional only has a #17 and the MIT regional only has a #25. Not to mention that both of those regionals are almost 1000 miles closer.

    Just think they should spread the love and try to do a little better job at evening out the regions especially when you’ve already decided that a team has to travel. I fail to see why certain regions get a pass year after year and are allowed to put a lower caliber team into the final 8.

    I second Peanut’s observation that top 25 ranked teams are overlooked in a field of 64 with 20 at large berths. It’s a tough one to understand unless you feel that the AVCA poll is completely off the mark.


    November 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm

  24. With regards to the coaches polls, it’s just time filler for the season. I think it does have some (very minor) influence but once you get past the 15th ranked team, it doesn’t matter. I think most of the coaches do the best they can (limited time and limited knowledge outside their region). Some play favorites and it gets really comical at times when looking at their ballots.

    Does having a RAC member help a college in the regional rankings? Not supposed to but human nature says it has to. These people develop relationships through volleyball matches and even teleconferences. If something is close, do you take the team with a coach you work with or an “outsider”?

    The New England region is interesting to me. I know they are the largest region but 12 teams in the tournament is just too much. Then to keep their region New England pure and have MIT as their #1 seed (and Bowdoin as the #2 seed). Top it off with Springfield as the #2 seed in the New York region. The New England RAC is like a friggin Volleyball Mafia!


    November 10, 2015 at 12:56 pm

  25. WUSTL did not have to fly. Any team had to fly to fill the West.
    I understand the process well. The D III map does not shift enough to the east in order to make feasible the goals you want to accomplish. Until the northeastern quadrant — in other words, the bulk of D III teams — becomes more competitive with the traditionally powerful programs.
    But those institutions do just fine without contending for NCAA titles. I’m not convinced that investing resources into a WUSTL-level program is even on the radar for most institutions. And in the grand scheme of things, enrollment figures and endowments are near the top of concerns. I’m sure a volleyball contender is rather low on that list of priorities as long as the volleyball program somehow hinders the top concerns, which, how could volleyball really do that?
    The AVCA poll and regional rankings have fairly similar aims but different methodologies.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm

  26. Ranked teams in each regional:

    Host: Juniata
    3 – Juniata
    6 – Wittenberg

    Host: Clarkson
    18 – Clarkson

    Host: Berry
    2 – Emory
    22 – Chicago

    Host: Wis.-Whitewater
    10 – Hope
    11 – Wis.-Whitewater
    21 – Gustavus Adolphus

    Host: Calvin
    4 – Calvin
    13 – Carthage
    15 – Wis.-Stevens Point
    17 – Elmhurst
    23 – Illinois Wesleyan

    Host :Stockton
    5 – Christopher Newport
    16 – Eastern

    Host: Cal Lutheran
    1 – Wash.-St. Louis
    7 – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
    8 – Colorado College
    9 – Cal Lutheran
    12 – Southwestern (TX)
    14 – Texas-Dallas

    Host: MIT
    24 – MIT

    Which region most closely resembles the traditional ‘region of death’? Hint: It’s not the regions hosted by Clarkson or MIT.

    Also, after giving this some thought, who should be more upset, Wash.-St. Louis or the other 5 ranked teams in the West? And the rest of the field should be happy that a strong team will be prevented from reaching the Championship tournament.



    November 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm

  27. Thank you, Stats. This is something I typically sit down and compute. Saves me some time.

    Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

  28. Ricky Nelson

    November 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

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