Updated WCC Volleyball National Rankings


With the WCC having a very strong year in women’s volleyball, here are the latest national rankings as of October 20th. A big upset has had some major effects on both the conference outlook and the national rankings as they relate to the WCC.

BYU, #12, DOWN THREE SPORTS: Just when it seemed like things were settling into a groove, BYU dropped their first match of WCC play and threw everything into chaos. After cruising to a 7-0 start in conference play and rising into the top ten, the Cougars dropped a five set thriller at San Diego this past weekend. They probably wish they never have to go back to San Diego again as that’s now three straight matches they have dropped when visiting the Toreros. The past two had major effects on the final standings, and this one could too.

San Diego is a very good team, so that explains why it only cost the Cougars a few spots in the standings. It really has no effect on their reputation as a powerful team or their chances at the NCAA Tournament, but it does have some far reaching effects. First off despite their fast start, even this one loss brings them right back to the pack. San Diego is just a game behind and has the advantage of a head-to-head win. Three other very good teams are just two games back. The Cougars were running away with things, but now they have added pressure on them as dropping even one more WCC match could open the door for another team to catch them.

The loss also has an effect on the national seedings we discussed last week for the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are right on the borderline now to get a national seeding, and those are a huge advantage especially because it allows a school to host their first and second round matches. Lots of time for the Cougars to improve their stock and secure a national seeding, but because they are already so highly ranked it will take a lot of scrapping and clawing just to get up a few more spots. Even one more WCC loss could mean saying goodbye to that precious national seed they were working towards. The pressure is really on the Cougars now.

If you’re BYU you would probably like a nice easy match to bounce back with, but unfortunately they get Loyola Marymount who has spent much of the year nationally ranked. If the Cougars drop this one, other teams would really be in position to catch them and they would be in some major trouble at that point. Fortunately they are playing at home where they have lots of crowd support and are a much stronger team. Between that and the fact that LMU is coming back to Earth gradually after their hot start, going undefeated this week and righting the ship for now shouldn’t be a problem.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT, #27, DOWN THREE SPOTS: Speaking of slipping, the breakout team of 2014 is slowly cooling down as Loyola Marymount has dropped out of the top 25. They are still one of the top teams receiving votes, but they are definitely cooling down. They were pushed to five sets by San Francisco in a close win before falling in five sets to Santa Clara. Those are both decent teams, but a week like that when you’re barely inside the top 25 pretty much guarantees you’re dropping out.

It’s been such a great run for the Lions that the situation has to be frustrating. It doesn’t help that they now have an absolute nightmare of a week ahead with trips to visit BYU and San Diego. Even going 1-1 this week probably seals their fate and puts them out of contention for the WCC Championship. A rough fate to accept for a team that is 17-3 and at times has looked like the best team in the conference.

The Lions can still save their season however, and barring a major collapse they are still looking very good to make the NCAA Tournament. They are still receiving a lot of top 25 votes, and we could see them back in the rankings at some point. If they pick up a big win or two their shot at winning the conference isn’t quite over just yet. Let’s not forget they already beat San Diego, so with one more shot against the Toreros and both shots left to take down the Cougars, they can stay in this thing.

SAN DIEGO, #29, RECEIVING VOTES: You just can’t count out a talented dynasty like the Toreros. Just as their collapse seemed complete having gone from a preseason ranking of #14 all the way down to not receiving any top 25 votes, the Toreros go out and shock BYU to put themselves right back on the map. It’s no surprise then that polls are San Diego fans again having them go from no votes last all the way up to receiving the fourth most votes of any team not ranked this week.

Despite an earlier loss to Loyola Marymount, the Toreros are second in the WCC and just a game back of BYU. They have put themselves in prime position to try and defend their 2013 WCC Championship. That’s quite a feat considering they were on the ropes after their struggles and the strong starts by the Lions and Cougars. Their match against LMU this week is huge as they cannot afford to suffer a season sweep to the Lions. If they do, they will need LMU to drop some matches to help them out. But if they win, they will get a two game lead on the Lions and be able to focus on catching BYU.

Either way, the Toreros are back. Assuming they stay hot and don’t start suffering too many more bad losses going forward, they should be able to remove the doubt that was creeping in that they might not make the NCAA Tournament. That doubt is pretty much gone right now, and this one big win could really be the turning point for their season.

The Toreros actually have a higher RPI than Loyola Marymount and are just one spot below BYU, so they are better than their record as evident by big wins like this one over the Cougars. The Toreros aren’t going down quietly, don’t count them out.

SANTA CLARA, #34, RECEIVING VOTES: The Broncos seem to really be enjoying copying the Toreros up and down season so far. Last week they both dropped out of receiving votes, and this week they are both back in that category after picking up big wins. The Broncos picked up an win over Pepperdine before getting a five set upset of Loyola Marymount which knocked the Lions out of the top 25.

At 5-3 in WCC play, the Broncos are still in the mix are one of the teams that was helped by San Diego upsetting first place BYU. The Broncos are having a very strong season and now boast wins over LMU and San Diego, two of the top teams in the conference. But they do have a loss to BYU meaning they will need to stay hot to have a chance at the title. They have a touch match at Pacific this week that would go a long way to helping their chances if they get a win.

Doing enough to grab the WCC Championship will be tough, but they are building a very strong resume for the NCAA Tournament. Like the Toreros, this recent upset helps put them back in the driver’s seat to reach the postseason. And like the Toreros if they can avoid too many more bad losses, they should make it in.

PACIFIC, NOT RANKED: The Tigers finally right the ship going 2-0 this past week including a five set win over a very good Gonzaga team, but it wasn’t enough to help them start picking up votes again. They had suffered to many recent losses for a couple wins to make up for it. Still at 16-5 overall and 5-3 in WCC play, they are right in the thick of things. Most importantly, they are yet another team with renewed hope for a WCC Championship thanks to San Diego’s upset of BYU.

The Tigers are having a strong season, but all their losses have been to key opponents. With losses already against BYU, San Diego, and Santa Clara, it’s going to be really tough to jump them all and steal away the WCC Championship. Like Santa Clara, and lot of their focus will be on continuing to win and building an NCAA Tournament resume. The important thing for them is they are back on track for now.  A tough week is ahead with matches against San Francisco and Santa Clara however, so taking another step back is a very dangerous possibility.

GONZAGA UP NEXT? :This will probably be the last time we’re asking whether Gonzaga is up next in the rankings. The jury has been out on them for a while, and we’re finally getting an idea of what they are this year. The Bulldogs looked like the real deal while rattling off four straight wins including victories over LMU and Santa Clara, but they came crashing back to Earth this past week with two losses including a very bad one to Saint Mary’s. They have fallen to 4-4 in WCC play and are pretty much out of the running.

They are still in the running for an NCAA Tournament spot, but they need to pick up some more signature wins to help their cause. They have the talent to get those wins, but they’re making it really hard on themselves. They have an easy week with one game at Portland, so hopefully they can get  win and rest up in hopes of a better showing in the second half of conference play.

SAN FRANCISCO EMERGING: One team to keep an eye on is San Francisco. At 11-9 overall they didn’t seem like a factor, but they have slowly climbed to 4-4 in conference play and have the kind of team that can catch someone off guard and steal a win. They don’t have any signature WCC wins yet and they have little to no shot at the WCC Championship, but they could cause some chaos by getting a surprise upset win or two.

At #89 currently in the RPI rankings, some marquee wins could push them into contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they would need to go on a serious run to have a real chance. They are more a team to watch for the future and see if they can pull off a couple upsets. With so many teams close near the top of the standings, a Dons upset win could have far reaching effects.