The race for the top seed in this year’s NESCAC Volleyball Championship came down to the wire, with five teams still in the hunt when play began this weekend. After gaining the upper-hand with a 3-0 triumph over Hamilton on Friday, Connecticut College needed some help from Bowdoin to wrap up home court advantage for the first time in program history. The Polar Bears did their part, defeating Williams 3-0 today. In the process, they sealed things for the Camels, who will enter postseason play riding a 12-match winning streak. Quarterfinal round action is slated to get underway on Friday at 5:00 p.m. Connecticut College will host all seven matches, including the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday.
The Camels finished in a three-way tie at the top of the standings with Middlebury and Bowdoin but were awarded the number one seed by virtue of their 2-0 record in head-to-head competition between the teams. After edging the Panthers 3-2 on September 15, they ended Bowdoin’s 40-match home winning streak with a 3-0 win on September 29.
Connecticut College (22-2, 8-2 NESCAC) has advanced the semifinal round of the NESCAC Championship three times (2006, 2007, 2007) but has never qualified for the finals. Prior to this season, the Camels were seeded as high as third in 2009. They have dropped just four sets over the past month.
Up first for the hosts will be Colby (12-12, 2-8 NESCAC). The Mules have struggled of late, dropping four straight matches after a promising start to their season. They finished in a deadlock for eighth place with Wesleyan but were awarded the final playoff slot due to their 3-2 triumph over the Cardinals on October 12. Colby took home the conference crown in 2005.
Middlebury (19-6, 8-2 NESCAC) came away with the second seed as a result of its 3-1 win over Bowdoin last night. Winners of six of their last seven matches, the Panthers will look to stay hot when they face off against seventh seeded Trinity (12-10, 5-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. They are in search of their fourth conference championship and second in the past three years. Middlebury was also the second seed in 2010, when it began its title run with a 3-0 win over the Bantams. Trinity locked up a postseason berth with wins over Bates and Colby this weekend. The Bantams fell 3-0 in their annual meeting against the Panthers on October 13.
Defending champion Bowdoin (25-3, 8-2) is in the midst of one of its most successful seasons in program history. Despite coming up just short in their bid to host the NESCAC Championship for the second year in a row, the Polar Bears are still considered a strong candidate to repeat. They enjoyed modest success in the postseason until their impressive title run in 2011. After wins over Colby and Trinity, they blanked Middlebury 3-0 to punch their ticket to the NCAA National Tournament. Bowdoin reeled off 12 straight wins before falling to the Panthers on Friday. Sixth seeded Tufts (13-12, 6-4 NESCAC) will have the first opportunity to unseat the Polar Bears. The Jumbos were in the mix for first place entering the weekend before losses to Williams and Middlebury ended their chances. Among their six league wins was a 3-1 triumph over Connecticut College on September 28. Tufts took home the title in 1996 and has advanced to the finals seven times. Bowdoin won the regular season matchup 3-0 on October 19.
The remaining quarterfinal round contest will pit fourth seeded Amherst (14-8, 7-3 NESCAC) and fifth seeded Williams (14-11, 7-3). The longtime rivals have met in the finals four times, with Williams prevailing on three occasions (2002, 2007, 2008). The Ephs have historically been the team to beat, racking up nine conference titles. Amherst has also been impressive in the postseason, winning three NESCAC titles. Both teams went 7-3 in league play this year, but the Lord Jeffs were awared the fourth seed due to their 3-1 win over the Ephs on October 13.
Results for the NESCAC Volleyball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
2012 VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, November 2 at Connecticut College
#8 Colby at #1 Connecticut College – 5:00 p.m.
#7 Trinity vs. #2 Middlebury – 5:00 p.m.
#6 Tufts vs. #3 Bowdoin – 8:00 p.m.
#5 Williams vs. #4 Amherst – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 3 at Connecticut College
Center Court: Winner of #1 | #8 vs. Winner of #4 | #5 – 1:00 p.m.
Center Court: Winner of #2 | #7 vs. Winner of #3 | #6 – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 4 at Connecticut College
Championship – 12:00 p.m.