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

Ricky Nelson’s 2016 final top 10

The final AVCA poll comes out Tuesday.

My rank, (my Week 10 rank, AVCA Week 10 rank), record, key results last week
1 (1,2). Calvin 33-1 National champion.
2 (4,5). Emory 33-6 National quarterfinalist.
3 (NR,16). Washington-St. Louis 27-11 National runner-up.
4 (NR,18). Northwestern 34-5 National semifinalist.
5 (2,1). Cal Lutheran 27-5 Regional Finalist.
6 (NR,7). Southwestern 34-5 National quartersemifinalist. [If only I were there to see it, I could remember]
7 (NR,14). Mary Washington 31-4 National quarterfinalist. 
8 (5,11). UW-Whitewater 29-7 Regional finalist.
9 (6,4). Texas Dallas 32-3 Regional finalist.
10 (NR,10). Juniata 26-7 Regional finalist.
Dropped out: No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (23-4); No. 7 Wittenberg (22-6); No. 8 Hope (25-6); No. 9 Trinity (Texas) (27-8); No. 10 UW-La Crosse (23-6).

-Ricky Nelson


Written by Ricky Nelson

November 20, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

11 Responses

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  1. No real complaint with your top 10. Calvin’s only chance to lose this weekend was to Emory. Could Emory beat WUSTL or NW? Don’t know.

    Edit – Southwestern was a National semifinalist…not quarterfinalist. Understandable not wanting to give them credit as they didn’t bring it against WUSTL.


    Which Elite 8 team surprised you the most making it out of their bracket?
    Which team would you have liked to seen in the Elite 8 that didn’t make it (and no, you can’t choose Oshkosh)?
    Did you enjoy the first day with 4 matches all going 5 sets?


    November 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

  2. DIIIFan,
    I guess I was most surprised to see Southwestern in Oshkosh because of the path to get there. Not totally surprised though. SU was definitely on my short list to make it out of Dallas. Northwestern probably surprised most with its win over Cal Lutheran, but I had it maybe 60-40 at most for CLU. An upset for sure, but a milder one in my book than most other’s. WUSTL took L’s this season, and Whitewater was really good — especially at home — but a healthy Bears team could beat anyone. No big surprise there.

    I honestly would have liked to have seen any team make it to Oshkosh. But this year I was happy to see finally see Mary Washington, Southwestern and Tufts in person for the first time.

    As far as the first day goes, it turns out there actually days when you leave work after 1 a.m. and you’re not at all displeased about it. I’ve gotten home after 3 a.m. for the baseball championship that we also host yearly. I’m not the freshest for the next day, but a quick perspective check that I work in sports puts the smile back on my face. I don’t really work for a living when I actually think about it. My body and mind don’t always agree with that though.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm

  3. A question to Ricky and other blog regulars on here (and those who watched the games this past weekend)…

    It seems like lots of the top 20 teams were 30ish-4ish, so Calvin’s record (32-1) seems to stand out from the crowd just a wee bit (sorry J&W, but your SOS compared to the Top 20 is like apples vs oranges). What do you think made Calvin this year just a tad bit better than everyone else?

    I have a couple of ideas, and I’d be happy to share them once others chime in. :)


    November 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm

  4. Anon – In one word, Danhoff. Remarkable player that had a wonderful weekend.

    The other thing that struck me about Calvin wasn’t that they were head and shoulders better than other teams but that they didn’t make mistakes. They wore you down. NW played a great game against them and hit well in the first 2 sets but Calvin would always have that lead. Just a really solid team that plays error free with an outstanding middle (and good to really good at the other positions).


    November 22, 2016 at 8:47 am

  5. Emory & WUSTL are both in the UAA Conference and Emory defeated WUSTL twice this season, the first in the UAA #2 Round Robin on 10/16: 23-25,25-16,25-23, 25-20 on a neutral court; the second in the Semifinal Round of the UAA Championship on 11/4 on WUSTL’s home court: 25-15, 25-10, 21-25, 25-23. Emory would have defeated NW on a neutral court since Emory can slow down OHs and NW would have had difficulty stopping Emory two MHs. Cal Lu had the misfortune of playing NW on NWs home court, and NW probably does well against anyone there. Not to be discounted is Calvin’s use of 6’2″ Ally Fee (a MH) as the right side blocker with 6’2″ Danhoff and 6’2″ DeVries in the middle. Fea had 6 block assists vs. Emory, and the OHs from all 3 teams had a difficult time. NWs Lindsey Peterson was 7-5-29-.069. Agree that Danhoff was superb! Note that Calvin is much taller/longer than most DIII teams and the tall women have above average athleticism. That alone can wear any team down. Amber Warner coached a great tournament.


    November 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

  6. DIIIFan and Robert,

    Thanks for answering my question. Yes, I agree that Danhoff is a very special player. I also agree that Calvin played very consistent volleyball and made fewer errors than other teams. Their height certainly does help them wear down opponents and their bigs still are quite athIetic despite being 6’+ in statue.

    I was at Oshkosh this past weekend and what surprised me most about Calvin is how aggressively they served. And they did so without any costly service errors. Sure, they had a few aces, but the number of times they served their opponents out-of-system was remarkable. Both Emory and WashU have a very solid tandem of MHs, yet WashU especially struggled mightily to get them the ball. In contrast, I thought Calvin did an excellent job in serve receive as DeVries (Calvin’s MH2) also had a Danhoff-like performance in 2 of the 3 matches they played. Calvin has really good OHs too, but when the MHs dominate like Danhoff and DeVries did, that can only happen when you are in system often. So kudos to Calvin’s back row.


    November 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  7. […] My final 2016 top 10 […]

  8. Anonymous, your analysis on serve/receive and especially on Calvin’s keeping opponents out of system is bang on. That alone may account for why Emory didn’t win the 4th set and eliminate Calvin. Coaching has a lot to do with risk/reward serving strategy, but of course, the players have to execute. Give credit to both.


    November 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

  9. Ricky,

    You have an early top ten for 2017?


    November 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

  10. Flash14,
    I’m nowhere near a 2017 top 10. Pretty sure it will start like this:
    1. Calvin
    2-10. TBD

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 23, 2016 at 3:27 pm

  11. All,
    I waited to chime in, but it was clear to me that Calvin had the advantage on first contacts. The Calvin receive went wonky at times, but that’s what subs are for, and Warners didn’t wait long to get a new passer in there at the first sight of trouble.

    The Knight serves were crucial. It’s not often that an AVCA-ranked team is among the national leaders in aces. Calvin was this year, and the Knights proved why last weekend.

    Calvin had the most complete team in Oshkosh.

    -Ricky Nelson

    Ricky Nelson

    November 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm

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