Three polls. Three new No. 1 teams in DII volleyball. Four days into September and the 2018 season is already an exciting one.
Nebraska-Kearney is the latest to reach the top spot in the poll. The Lopers are currently 8-0 as they ready to head east for yet another four-game weekend tournament. Let’s take a quick look at the three teams who have reached No. 1 thus far in the 2018 DII volleyball season.
Week 2 No. 1: Nebraska-Kearney Lopers, 8-0, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association
The Lopers are perfect on the season, leaping four spots from No. 5 to No. 1 this week. UNK began the season on the West Coast, sweeping its way through The Cougar Classic in San Marcos, California. Last weekend the Lopers defended their home court, hosting Midwestern State, Minot State, Newman, and South Dakota Mines in the UNK Fall Classic. Now, it’s on to the East Coast where they will square off against four Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference powers in the California Vulcan Invitational before they open MIAA play the following weekend.
The Lopers lead a balanced attack. Both Mary Katherine Wolfe and Anna Squires lead the team with 63 kills, while Julianne Jackson has done it all thus far in 2018. The 5’9” outside hitter has 101 digs, 58 kills and 12 service aces, including 10 in last week’s tournament to capture MVP honors. One would think that playing unranked teams this coming weekend, UNK would be safe atop the top 25 poll.
It has been anything but thus far in 2018.
Week 1 No. 1: Minnestoa Duluth Bulldogs, 4-0, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
We called the NSIC a DII volleyball factory in our DII volleyball preview, and Minnesota Duluth was the second team from the conference to capture the No. 1 spot this season. The Bulldogs cruised to a 4-0 start, sweeping their way through the Flagler Saints Invitational, defeating then-No. 25 Flagler and a Saint Leo and Findlay team both receiving votes in the preseason poll.
It was a little tougher for UMD this past weekend, when the Bulldogs dropped consecutive games to unranked teams this past Friday. Though they recovered with two straight wins the following day, Minnesota Duluth fell to No. 6 as Northern Michigan, the second of the two teams to defeat the Bulldogs, soared into the rankings at No. 23. Now, NSIC play opens for Minnesota Duluth and in a conference that sports four of the top ten teams in the nation, it won’t get any easier.
Preseason No. 1: Concordia-St. Paul, defending national champions, NSIC
This was as easy a pick as there was. The Golden Bears entered 2018 as the reigning champs, winners of nine of the last 11 titles. With plenty of returners, they were a surefire pick for the No. 1 team in DII.
Concordia hit a speed bump in its first tournament of the season, getting swept in straight sets to host and current No. 13 Ferris State at its tournament. Next was the Colorado Premier Challenge, where Concordia dropped the first match of the tournament to the upstart, giant killers Texas A&M-Commerce. The Lions are now 4-0 against ranked teams on the season, springing them to No. 17 from the unranked, while Concordia sits at No. 2 after closing out the tournament with consecutive straight-set victories over No. 10 Central Missouri and No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State.
Like Minnesota Duluth, the Golden Bears open NSIC play this weekend against Upper Iowa. The title defense won’t be an easy one.