L'ville to beat them. First off at 27-1, they are on a roll. Texas has a 14 game winning streak that none of those matches went more than 4 sets including their 5 NCAA tourney wins. Their only loss was a 5 setter at Iowa State which was only the 2nd time they were pushed to 5 sets this year, the other at Kansas. Those four sets they lost that went to 25 or more (two went 27-25) were all by just the minimum 2 pts.
All of their wins against ranked teams did not go the distance (ie <5 sets). They beat quarterfinalist tOSU 3 times, including twice in Columbus and beat #1 seed quarterfinalist Stanford 3-0 in Palo Alto. They beat #4 Minnesota at home, #15 Baylot home and away, and in the tourney their wins as the #1 seeded host team were over #16 Marquette and #10 tOSU, then in Omaha over #3 San Diego (all 3-1). Now they get #4 L'ville in Omaha.
Plus their team has massive Finals experience. With their previous 2020 final loss, three of their top players who combined played in 93% of their sets were their block & kill leaders in that UK loss. Those 3 were also there when they had a home loss as a better seed to Nebraska last year in the quarterfinals.
So Texas' motto is if you can't beat them get their best players to transfer to your team. Starting with Madison Skinner who they list now as a Soph. Here's her UT bio: Two-time All-American, All-SEC, and 2020 National Champion…led the Widcats with 3.78 kills per set, finished with a .282 hitting percentage The 389 kills and her 49 total blocks were the fifth-most on the team. As a true freshman in 2020, helped lead Kentucky the title, during the NCAA Tournament averaged 3.1 kills per set and had a season-high 19 kills in the National Championship match against Texas. This year she played 94% of the sets and she's 2nd to 4 yr senior Eggleston at 3.65 k/s but a better hitting % at .303.
Realizing that Nebraska might also get in their way again they got 2 players from that team that got to the finals last year. They picked up Libero Akana who had 7 aces for Nebraska when they beat them in Austin last year. This year she played 95 of their 97 sets and is second on the team in cces to Texas star all around star Eggleston. Also from that Nebraska team they picked up block expert Kayla Caffrey who ended up 2nd to redshirt sr O'Neal in blocks.
So that totals 6 of the 10 players who played in more than half their sets were in a National Championship match the last two years, 3 on other teams. Then 3 other players who played in more than half their sets were also transfers, all from the PAC12 (UCLA, Cal, & Utah). Then they had one true Freshman recruit who played a lot of sets and shared Libero time with Akana. UT has had several NIL collectives which they are now combining into 1 fund to help finance all their sports (see attached letter from the Texas AD which mentions their #1 Volleyball team). My guess is a lot of these Volleyball players are cashing in and it may have helped getting those transfers.
From my review of Louisville's roster, they clearly are not getting the same number of impact transfers as Texas. I could only find 1 transfer Spanish International Lazaro, who is their setter in her 1st year as a grad student who transferred from USC, A team L'ville never played. I also doubt they are playing the same NIL game as Texas.
Tomorrow's final, L'ville will have their hands full. Still last year their only loss was to eventual National Champ Wisconsin in 5 sets in the semis. They ended up 32-1. This year they are 31-2 and on a 13 match win streak since losing at Pitt which they have now avenged twice. Their only other loss was at home 3-1 to tOSU, a team Texas beat 3 times this year. My gut for L'ville to win is to capture one of the 1st 2 sets and then force a 5 setter which they are more experienced (4-1) while Texas is only 1-1. I am worried about a blow out.
They were led by AVCA NPOY senior Eggleston, but Nebraska xfr Akana from last year Finals team served the match point, the other Nebraska xfr Caffey led them in blocks, Skinner the xfr from 2020 NC Kentucky was 2nd to Eggleston in Kills, Utah xfr Ka'aha'aina-Torres led in Assists & 2nd in Digs while UCLA xfr Fleck led in Digs, Aces, and 2nd in Assists. Those 5 xfrs + the 4 Texas HS recruits (1 RS snr, 1 snr, 1 jnr, & 1 freshman) were the only ones who played any meaningful time for Texas. If you have the core buying your xfrs in through NIL may be the new strategy.
One thing for sure the Nebraska crowd was anti Texas for stealing their players as well as support Nebraska grad who is the L'ville coach. Little love for Texas except their fans.
Unless you "kinda" count Texas.
The SEC has dumped a lot of money on their Olympic sports in the last decade. Women's soccer has been a beneficiary as well as volleyball. Kentucky and Florida have been the headliners, but Arkansas was pretty good as well as Georgia and Auburn.
it to the Final 4 is not that big a surprise. Of the 7 teams, 3 were seeded Kentucky and Florida each #3 who lost in the Rd of 16 to a better seeded team and Arkansas #6 who lost to #3 seeded Oregon in Eugene in the round of 32, a match I attended. Their match record in the tourney was 8-7 and they have only had 12 appearances in the FInal 4 overall, 8 by Florida.
You are right they are investing more in women's sports. Not only Vball & soccer, but gymnastics and especially in softball. So getting their 1st WCVB championship in 2020 by Kentucky was big and having the most teams getting in the tourney this year does emphasize your point.
The ACC only had 4 teams get in the tourney so having 2 left is big. FSu fell short and Ga Tech followed form, but L'ville/Pitt are our headliners. The ACC match record is 9-2 and will be 10-3 as one of them heads into the final. Texas who currently is still in the Big 12 is their 1 left out of their 4 that qualified and are currently 7-3 in match record. The Big 10 and PAC12 each had 6 qualify and all but 1 (Colorado of the PAC12) were seeded with 2 ones, 2 twos, 2 threes, 1 four, 1 six, 1 seven, and 2 eights. Big 10 went 13-6 while the Pac 12 went 8-6.
It would be nice if the ACC starts getting 5 or more teams selected in hte tourney with the last two years long runs by Pitt & L'Ville. To me ACC Vball is at least as good as the SEC (at least until Texas is in their conference). MY guess is the PAC12 & Big 10 will be back next year.
The SEC would seem to invest more in women's sports than the other conferences.
The ACC really shot themselves in the foot when they signed that ridiculous media rights deal with ESPN. While other conferences are cashing in and investing the money back into their non revenue sports, the ACC seems to be getting left behind.
millions for their football coaches and facilities and built up men's other sports, mostly baseball and basketball. Because there is so much ridiculous football money when they dominated the BCS/CFP they started sharing the crumbs with the women.
On the other hand the PAC and ACC for years focused on the other sports where women athletes benefited across the board based on their conference preferences. ACC focused on soccer, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, even fencing while the PAC teams focused on vball, softball, baseball, track/xcountry, swimming/diving, gymnastics, but also did well in basketball and soccer. You can see by counting their impressive # of NCAA championships in all those sports since title 9. The reason the Big10 and schools like Nebraska, PSU, and Texas got good in Vball was because they fully funded VBall scholarships to offset all the football scholarships with Title 9 which allowed them to compete with the good PAC & West Coast VB teams.
Now the SEC has piled in the leftover FB money for women sports and it will pay off over time, especially as you point out the ACC as well as the PAC12 can't keep up. Thx for the conversation.
Women's volleyball is Top 3 in best watches in sports. The speed and athleticism they show makes it a better watch than a lot of things that get better ratings.
this year made it one sided and that disappointed me. I do love when the top talented teams draw big crowds and have truly competitive matches. The PAC12 has had that with their top teams (Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington) for a while and the others occasionally get NCAA tourney quality teams to keep it interesting. I get it when a team like Stanford get a generational athlete like Plummer and dominate, but they didn't win with xfrs like Texas. The ACC is starting to make VBall interesting especially with L'ville and Pitt. In fact L'ville drew over 9K for the match against ND, a match I watched on ACCN which wasn't competitive as they swept us.
Still the fact that Texas played only two 5 setters, losing only 1, against weaker competition early in the regular season. It showed they knew they could win any match and they get bored to keep the matches close for a little competition. When it really counted, not a single one of their NCAA tourney matches went past 4 sets. They were 18-3 in sets for the 6 tourney matches. The 3 sets they lost was the 3rd set in the Rd of 16 against Marquette, 2nd set in the quarters against tOSU, and a 28-26 loss in the 1st set against San Diego in the semis. I would say that was the only time they were tested. Then they promptly beat USD 25-15, 25-18, and 25-20. In the Final which they beat L'ville 3-0, they won the 1st two 25-22 and 25-14, so let L'ville get to a set point in the 3rd and quickly ended it 26-24.
The problem I have is that Texas who did have a good core in Eggleston, Oneil, and Phillips then added 3 All-American xfrs in Fleck, Skinner, and Ka'aha'aina-Torres, as well as 2 key contributers from last years Nebraska team that made it to the finals to make sure they dominated. If that keeps happening the sport will become less watchable.
That said I truly enjoyed watching the Ducks with their 5th yr senior 1st team AA Brooke Nuneviller and their National Freshman POY and 3rd team AA Mimi Colyer lead their team to the quarters with eleven 5 setters all year, both wins and losses, including a few that came from 0-2 to win. The two 5 setters in the Rd of 16 (win over Nebraska) and quarters (loss to L'ville) were tremendous. In the ACC two of L'ville/Pitts matches went 5 sets and were awesome as well as "L'ville come from 0-2 down to beat Ga Tech in 5 in Atlanta. That has to keep happening as well as getting good crowds.
You are right these athletes are very athletic, competitive, and attractive so could be a great TV draw. Certainly tennis and beach volleyball have prospered with that formula. Still the championship matches must be competitive and this year was a disappointment with Texas stacking the deck. I hope this doesn't continue.