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


with 25 comments

How many teams make the NCAA Division III women’s volleyball tournament?
In 2019, 64 teams. There were 64 teams in 2011-18, 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 2019:
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference
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
Iowa Intercollegiate 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
There were 43 Pool A bids in 2016-18, 44 Pool in 2014-15, 43 bids in 2013, 42 bids in 2010-12 and 40 bids in 2009

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 2019 there will be 43 Pool A bids, 1 Pool B bid, 20 Pool C bids.
In 2018 there were 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 2019 the 64 selected teams will play in eight regional tournaments (Nov. 14-16 or 15-17) held on D III campuses. Regionals containing institutions that do not play on Sundays (examples are Calvin, Greenville, Hope and Northwestern) will be held Nov. 14-16. All others will be held Nov. 15-17. 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 2019 the seeded final tournament will be held Nov. 21-23 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The 2020 finals will be contested in Columbus, Ohio. The 2021 finals will be 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. The final regional rankings – the ones that are formed following conference tournaments and used for selection purposes  – will be also be published along with the announced field of 64.

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 and the one preceding regional rankings lists. 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 2019 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual can be found here.

Leave a comment if you have any questions or corrections.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

October 30, 2008 at 1:15 pm

25 Responses

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  1. […] sure what that means? See the FAQ page for my best effort at explaining it. If you still have questions after that, leave a comment or […]

  2. where will the regional games during 12 -14 Nov be played

    D hantz

    October 31, 2010 at 7:59 pm

  3. The NCAA will select the 2010 regional hosts on Nov. 3. Until then it’s all conjecture because I don’t know if all of the top hosting contenders submitted bids to host.

    If I had to take a stab at the Midwest and Central hosts today, they would be Washington and UW-Eau Claire.



    October 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm

  4. […] is highly anticipated by nerds like me. Click the link to see all the information that it contains. The FAQ page will be updated after I sift through the 50 pages of this year’s fine […]

  5. […] down the 2011 D-III Volleyball Handbook Pre-Championship Manual. With that Nerdfest announcement, the FAQ has been updated. Here are the […]

  6. […] a refresher, you can see the FAQ for more details about the selection […]

  7. […] I will be tracking Pool A teams from around the country on that page. What’s a Pool A team? Check out the FAQ for a primer or refresher on some of the ins and outs of the postseason […]

  8. […] free to ask any questions. The FAQ page has been updated with information culled from the 2012 […]

  9. […] a postseason refresher? See the FAQ page. Need help on your SID staff? See the About Me […]

  10. Do you think Calvin and Wittenberg will be placed in the same region?

    Dan Gilene

    November 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm

  11. I do, Dan. I think Calvin will host and Witt will be in Grand Rapids. If any team is shipped, it may be an OAC team, especially if the OAC gets four teams. It’s conjecture that relies on me nailing the Pool C teams and being correct on my regional hosts, but I think it will be another loaded Great Lakes regional this year.

    What’s your feeling? Will Witt stay “in-region” or get shipped?

    -Ricky Nelson


    November 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

  12. I guess we got the answer. Witt is going to Grand Rapids. Looks like the national championship game might be played in Grand Rapids…Calvin vs Witt.

    Dan Gilene

    November 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

  13. Hope is playing very well right now, too.

    While I agree that the Calvin Regional final is bound to be great – presumably better than the national quarterfinals – I’m an optimist and think we’ll get a good national final matchup. WashU, Emory, CNU, CLU and some others are definitely in the same league as the Great Lakes teams. I’m on board if you’re saying Calvin is hosting the most stacked regional.

    I don’t know if you followed the blog last year, but I predicted Witt to win the regional over undefeated Calvin and to win the national title. Squirrel found a nut.

    -Ricky Nelson


    November 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

  14. […] that I have seen the 2013 Manual, the FAQ page has been […]

  15. […] will update the FAQ page to reflect the Pool A change when this year’s Pre-Championship Manual is released. My […]

  16. […] FAQ page is as updated as it can be because I’m not seeing a 2014 Pre-Championship Manual. If we were […]

  17. […] For more info on the selection process, see the FAQ page. […]

  18. […] always, the FAQ page and the page with links to All D III Teams, Conferences are there as utilitarian catch-alls […]

  19. […] FAQ page has been […]

  20. […] any event, the FAQ page has been […]

  21. […] 2017 NCAA Division III Pre-Championship Manual has been published. The FAQ page has been […]

  22. […] For abridged primers on the regional rankings and the selection process, peruse the FAQ page. […]

  23. […] FAQ and All D III Teams, Conferences pages have been updated for the 2018 season. Corrections […]

  24. […] FAQ page has been […]

  25. […] FAQ Page has been […]

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