The NCCA Championships areupon us and four of the country’s best college volleyball programs are set to descend on Ohio this week as they fight it out for the title.
Texas know all about NCCA championship glory having took the accolade in 1988 and more recently in 2012. The Longhorns have reached the Final Fours the past five seasons but this is somewhat unchartered territory for them as it the first time in six years that Texas have headed into the tournament without a Big 12 championship.
Kansas just edged Longhorns in the race to first but Jerritt Elliott has no qualms about this. The coach undoubtedly has his side playing some of the best volleyball we’ve seen this season and there’s no better time to do be in top form than now. Micaya White and Paulina Prieto Cerame with 455 and 399 kills respectively will be in pivotral to their Final Four challenge. Chloe Collins is an unsung hero and is invaluable to that offense with 1,261 assists providing first class service.
The Golden Gophers head to Columbus bereft playoff experience of the remaining teams and that may cause problems for them. Minnesota are without a title and have fallen short in three of their four Final Four semi-final appearances. Still, that won’t stop them from giving it a good go and their momentum puts them in good stead to do so, with 14 consecutive wins behind them. With 512 kills Sarah Wilhite boasts the best record in the Final Four and will cause problems for Stamford, particularly aided by Hannah Tapp who boats an impressive 324 kills and hitting percentage of .326.
Stanford may well be the underdogs ahead of their clash with Minnesota, but no program has more than their 14 semi-final wins or 20 Final Four appearances) than them. Without a title win since 2004, that drought may be on the mind but they can’t let that affect them. A win on Saturday would make the history books as no college has ever won a title with more than six losses. Freshman setter Jenna Gray will be key in that feat with her 182 assists in the postseason. Inky Ajanaku175 blocks and with 329 and a .410 hitting percentage she will also be crucial to her side’s title surge.
Nebraska lost just four matches last year and are on their way to winning their fourth national championship. Though if you thought last year’s form was good, it’s nothing on their current form as they are just two wins away from becoming only the sixth school to repeat.Given these recent gains, they will be the team to beat this Championship with several sports tipsters, such as SBAT, likely to back their title chances.
The Cornhuskers won their first 13 matches before a loss to Ohio State in October ended 28-match winning streak. With resilience, they bounced back from that loss with another 14-game winning streak before falling short on the road against fellow Final Four semi-finalist Minnesota, though the Nebraska has conceded only 18 sets all season so fellow finalists have reason to be worried. It’s all about sibling power for the Cornhuskers with 587 kills between twin sisters Kadie and Amber Rolfzen and another 265 blocks.