VOLLEYBALL — Golden Bears claw their way back to the top

The roller coaster atop the AVCA Coaches Poll in DII Volleyball took another loop this past week. The top ten had a complete shake up as there is yet another team sitting in the No. 1 spot in the nation.

This week, the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears jumped two spots and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking behind two road victories. This isn’t the first time the Golden Bears have reached the top spot in the nation, as they were No. 1 back on November 12th before being upset by Northern State. 

“Anytime you have a loss,” head coach Brady Starkey said, “it's a good time to take your team and refocus. It helps them realize they need to keep improving. We realized this and hopefully we keep getting better as the season goes on so we are peaking by the time playoffs come around.” 

The Golden Bears have a big weekend ahead as they square off against nationally ranked Wayne State (No. 3) and Augustana (No. 20) on Friday and Saturday. It is sure to be a test of their meddle.

“We hope that our girls are resilient and they do keep fighting back,” Starkey said of how there is seemingly no rest on the NSIC schedule. “It shows how tough our conference is, where you might not stay on top very long because the other teams are really good as well. 

For us though, it has shown that we are lacking consistency and need to improve in that area so we don't have an off night come playoff time. To go far in the playoffs we have to be able to play at a higher level for longer stretches of time.”

The NSIC continues to monopolize the top five as Southwest Minnesota State jumped two spots to claim the No. 2 ranking, Wayne State jumped three spots to No. 3, and Northern State dropped two spots to No. 4.

“The NSIC has the most parity I have ever seen in our conference from the top to the bottom,” Starkey said. “You really have to be ready to compete every night you step on the floor or you will get picked off by anyone.

This is something our teams have really been accustomed to for a long time now and it's just the normal thing for us, they really don't know anything else. I think our teams are competitors and they love having to play a tough match every weekend — it keeps them sharp and focused throughout the year and the benefits have been our players are really ready to compete come playoff time.” 

Sitting tied at No. 5 are the Tampa Spartans and last week’s No. 1, the Ferris State Bulldogs. The Spartans have rebounded since being upset by unranked Lynn University on October 24th to win their last three in a row. 

The Bulldogs continue to be the GLIAC’s lone representative in the nation’s top 25, despite being a very competitive conference. Ferris State saw an 11-game winning streak come to an end with an upset on Northern Michigan’s court on Saturday. While the Bulldogs fell four spots into the tie at No. 5, Ashland, Findlay and GVSU all garnered some votes outside the top 25 this past week. 

SOCCER — Reigning champs back on top

The regular season has come to an end across the nation, and DII women’s soccer is preparing for the excitement of playoff soccer. This week kicks off the conference championships.

The Gannon Golden Knights — who sat at No. 1 for the first time in the program’s history over the past four weeks — dropped their first loss of the season in the finale. Heading into the October 30th bout with East Stroudsburg, the Golden Knights were the last team without a loss or a tie — sitting at a perfect 17-0-0 — at any level of college soccer. 

They would lose the game 4-2. The four goals were the total amount of goals the Golden Knights has allowed since September 19th. Now sitting at No. 5 in NSCAA Coaches Poll, Gannon defeated Bloomsburg in the quarterfinals of the PSAC tourney Tuesday night. They will host Edinboro in Friday’s Final Four match.

Gannon's loss opened the door for the reigning back-to-back champion GVSU Lakers to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the country. The Lakers closed their regular season on a 16-game win streak with an impressive 2-0 shutout against a Ferris State team that is second in the GLIAC. The Lakers haven’t allowed a goal since October 4th, ending the season by outscoring their opponents 30-0 over a six-game shutout run.

"Our conference has some good teams, and some quality players and coaches, so to beat everyone you play in the conference stretch really is a good year," head coach Jeff Hosler said to GVSU Athletics. ”Statistically, it's been fantastic, and there's no better word than perfect.”

GVSU’s MF Marti Corby is amid a sensational season. She finished the regular season atop the GLIAC in both goals and assists. GK Emily Maresh is tops in the GLIAC with a 0.46 GAA. The Lakers continued their shutout streak, downing Malone 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the GLIAC tournament. They host the semifinals this Friday. 

Columbus State continued their strong season. The Cougars finished the season on a 12-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 42-1 over the month of October. That included an impressive 1-0 win over PBC rival and nationally ranked North Georgia. Their end run was enough to propel them two more spots to No. 6 in the nation. 

The Cougars finished without a loss in PBC play, ending the year at 10-0-1. Nicole Corcione looks to be the favorite for PBC Player of the Year, leading the league with 12 goals and 12 assists. 

Tuesday night would see a little scare for Columbus State as they would go down 2-0 to Lander in their opening game of the PBC Tournament. However, they would rally to victory behind a 6-2 final.

"I thought we really stepped up our game in the second half and scored some good goals,” head coach Jay Entlich told CSU Atheltics. “It was great to see us to respond to adversity and to score six unanswered goals speaks to this team's character.”

The Western Washington Vikings jumped three spots to No. 2 this week. They finished their season on a 15-game lossless streak, going 11-0-1 in the GNAC. Mankato jumped from the sixth spot to round out this week’s top three.

FIELD HOCKEY — The Warriors take the day

The Millersville Marauders and East Stroudsburg Warriors have been in a constant struggle for DII Field Hockey supremacy all season. Two weeks ago the two stood tied at No. 1 in the nation. The tie was broken last week as the Marauders took over sole possession of the top spot. That unfortunately didn’t last too long. 

Millersville ended the season on a four game winning streak — outscoring their opponents 13-1 — after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the East Stroudsburg Warriors on October 13th. It wasn’t enough however, as the Warriors — thanks to that 1-0 victory — have taken control of both the PSAC and NHFCA Coaches Poll in the No. 1 spot.

The Warriors — who tied Millersville with a 9-1 record in the PSAC — will be the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s PSAC tournament. Millersville looks to take on the winner of the Shippensburg/Bloomsburg match while ESU awaits the victor of the Kutztown/ West Chester bout. 

The Warriors are searching for their first PSAC title in the history of their program. They are led by Ally Roth, who’s 19 goals are tied for second best in the PSAC.

Adelphi remains the tops in the NE-10. The roll into tournament play as the No.1 seed behind a 10-2 record, good for the No. 4 spot in the poll. Assumption — who also has a 10-2 conference record — takes the No. 2 seed due to a loss to Adelphi earlier in the season. They await the winners of the first round matchups for Friday’s semifinals.