With the WCC having a very strong year in women’s volleyball, here are the latest national rankings as of October 27th. Teams are beating up on each other right now, and there has been a lot of movement in the rankings as a result.
BYU, #11, UP ONE SPOT: The Cougars have recovered nicely from their upset loss to San Diego a few weeks ago. They swept a good LMU squad and took care of business against Pepperdine last week. But with the Lions fading and the Waves week this year, it only allowed the Cougars to make up one spot in the rankings.
The Toreros remain right on their heels just one game back and holding the head-to-head win. Fortunately, the Cougars still control their own destiny. If they win out including a victory over San Diego in Provo on November 14th, they will clinch the WCC Championship. But that’s far from a foregone conclusion right now.
Besides the loss to San Diego, the Cougars are having their struggles dropping games here and there they shouldn’t. Dropping a game and winning 3-1 to Pepperdine this past week was a good example. The Toreros are red hot, and BYU losing even one more match could allow them to steal the title away once again. The Cougars may have taken their foot off the gas for a little bit thinking they were cruising, so if they want to lock this up they need to start it up again.
SAN DIEGO, #30, RECEIVING VOTES: The Toreros did their job this past week getting a big sweep of LMU to split the season series, but they lost some top 25 votes. It might reflect the recent struggles of LMU as a win over the Lions has not looked as impressive lately as it did a while back. However, what matters for the Toreros is that they are rolling right now having won five straight including matches against their two biggest opponents in BYU and Loyola Marymount.
They are riding high at a good time, because they have two dangerous road matches this week at San Francisco and Santa Clara. Both those teams have shown flashes of talent this year, and the Toreros need every single win they can get to stay with BYU. They want to still be riding this win streak heading into their match at BYU to have a good shot at another upset.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT, NOT RECEIVING VOTES, FORMERLY #27: The poor Lions are in freefall, there’s no other way to put it. After an undefeated non-conference schedule and cracking the top 25, it looked like it was their year. When they swept San Diego early in WCC play, it definitely looked like their year.
But now after the Torero exacted revenge with their own sweep this past week, the Lions have dropped three in a row and are out of the rankings completely. Even worse, they are probably out of the running for the WCC Championship. At 5-5 in conference play, that’s just too much ground to make up at this point. Nobody will fault them for the recent losses to BYU and San Diego, but just too many other losses have piled up and sealed their fate.
All they can hope for at this point is that they can get enough wins to justify their big first half of the season and get enough attention for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Priority number one to do that will be to get back on track and avoid losing to non-contenders. For the rest of their schedule, that pretty much means only losing to BYU and beating everyone else. They can do it, but it’s no sure thing.
We still think their big first half gets them in the NCAA Tournament, but with the WCC Champioship and automatic berth out of reach they need to avoid giving the selection committee more reasons to leave them out of the field.
PACIFIC, #33, RECEIVING VOTES: The Tigers are fully out of their rough patch and are clawing their way back into the picture. After falling to BYU and San Diego in consecutive games, Pacific bounced back with a dramatic 3-2 to win over Gonzaga after being down 2-0 in Spokane. Since then they have rattled off three sweeps to extend their winning streak to four.
At 7-3 they are in the mix for the title, but road matches and San Diego and BYU loom large just two days apart next week. Drop one and chances of winning it all are slim. Drop both and it’s probably over. But like LMU they are playing well and staying just in the national spotlight. If they can keep winning, they will be in the mix and have a good shot at an at-large berth for the NCAA Tournament.
Pacific already has the win over LMU and can sweep them. That will go a long way if they cannot pull off an upset over BYU or San Diego. Like the Lions, avoiding losses to anyone who isn’t a major contender is the key going forward.