Spurred by a perfect 10-0 conference record, Tufts University has earned the top seed and the right to host the 2008 NESCAC Volleyball Championship. The Jumbos will begin their quest for the program's second NESCAC title when the three-day, eight-team tournament begins on Friday, Nov. 7 in Medford, Mass. with quarterfinal action beginning at 5:00 p.m. The 2008 NESCAC Volleyball Championship continues with the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 8 and concludes with the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 12:00 p.m.
Tufts (27-2, 10-0 NESCAC) has lost only two matches so far this fall, the finals of the Tufts Invitational (Union 3-0) and the Hall of Fame Invitational (Springfield 3-2). The Jumbos secured the number-one seed on Friday evening with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Wesleyan and then closed out the regular season with a 3-0 decision over Trinity on Saturday afternoon. Tufts' road to its first conference crown in 12 years starts Friday evening against eighth-seeded Bates (15-17, 2-8 NESCAC). The Bobcats were the final team to make the championship field after they tied with Colby and Trinity in the league standings for the eighth spot. All three teams tied with identical head-to-head records, however Bates emerged from the pack with the best head-to-head set record against tied teams, earning a tournament berth for the first time since 2004. The Bobcats closed out the regular season with a 3-1 win over Hamilton on Friday before dropping a pair of matches to Middlebury (3-1) and Williams (3-0) on Saturday afternoon. Bates and Tufts opened the conference slate against one another in the only meeting between the two this season, as the Jumbos came away with a 3-1 win on Sept. 19 in Lewiston, Maine. Against this year's championship field, the Jumbos are 10-0 while the Bobcats are 0-9.
Wesleyan (20-6, 8-2 NESCAC) edged out Amherst for the second seed on the final day of the regular season. While both teams tied for second in the conference standings, the Cardinals' 3-1 victory over the Jeffs on Saturday proved to be the difference. Wesleyan will face seventh-seeded Bowdoin (17-16, 4-6 NESCAC) in the other 5:00 p.m. match on Friday. These two teams faced each other just over two weeks ago at Trinity with the Cardinals earning a 3-0 victory. Aside from Tufts' sensational autumn, Wesleyan has been the hottest team down the stretch, winning 13 out of its last 15 matches. Bowdoin, which finished the regular season with a 3-1 setback to Williams and a 3-0 win over Hamilton, went 4-6 over its final 10 outings. In recent tournament history, the Cardinals and the Polar Bears squared off in the quarterfinals of the 2006 championship with Wesleyan fighting past Bowdoin 3-1. The Cardinals are 7-2 against tournament opponents, while the Polar Bears are 2-6.
Third-seeded Amherst (20-7, 8-2 NESCAC) will take on a familiar foe in sixth-seeded Connecticut College (18-11, 6-4 NESCAC) during the quarterfinals, as the two squads clashed on Friday evening at Wesleyan with the Jeffs coming away 3-1 victors. Amherst's performance so far in 2008 has been steady, having not dropped more than two matches in a row and going 7-3 over the final 10 contests. The Camels also finished strong down the stretch, posting an 8-2 record over their last 10 matches with the two setbacks coming to Amherst and Tufts. Both of these teams have reached the conference semifinals in each of the last two years. The Jeffs have managed to take it a step further by winning the league title in 2006, followed by a 3-1 win over the Camels in last year's semis and finishing as the runner up in 2007. Against the field, Amherst is 8-4 and Connecticut College is 3-5.
The final quarterfinal match will feature fourth-seeded and defending NESCAC champion Williams (22-12, 7-3 NESCAC) and fifth-seeded Middlebury (15-10, 6-4 NESCAC). The Ephs head into the 2008 championship with wins in their last six matches, closing the regular season on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Bowdoin and a 3-0 decision against Bates. The Panthers also have a bit of momentum entering Friday's contest with wins in eight of their last nine, however the lone loss came at the hands of Williams on Tuesday evening, 3-1. Middlebury tied Connecticut College for fifth in the conference standings but was able to earn the five spot outright thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Camels on Sept. 20. Friday's affair will be the third consecutive quarterfinal meeting between these two teams. Williams has won both of the two previous first round matches, 3-1 in 2006 and 3-0 in 2007. Williams is 5-5 against this year's championship teams, while Middlebury holds a 3-6 mark.
2008 NESCAC VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Friday, November 7 at Tufts
No. 8 Bates at No. 1 Tufts - 5:00 p.m.
No. 7 Bowdoin vs. No. 2 Wesleyan - 5:00 p.m.
No. 6 Connecticut College vs. No. 3 Amherst - 8:00 p.m.
No. 5 Middlebury vs. No. 4 Williams - 8:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, November 8 at Tufts
Winner No. 1/No. 8 vs. Winner No. 4/No. 5 - 1:00 p.m.
Winner No. 2/No. 7 vs. Winner No. 3/No. 6 - 3:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, November 9 at Tufts
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.