MSU Denver and Regis welcomed nine nationally-ranked DII women's volleyball teams to the 24th annual Colorado Premier Challenge on Sept. 13 and 14. Four top 10 teams — No. 1 Tampa, No. 5 Lewis, No. 9 Tarleton State, and No. 10 Concordia-St. Paul — were on display, and left us with more questions about the top 25 than answers after a thrilling weekend of play.
When the tournament ended, Concordia-St. Paul added yet another title to its illustrious history. After a rocky opening weekend, we learned quickly that the Golden Bears are A-OK. Here are a few takeaways from the Colorado Premier Challenge.
No. 1 Tampa does a 180 after an impressive Week 1
The Spartans enter 2019 as defending champions and sure looked like it in Week 1. They swept through the Tampa Classic, taking down DII women's volleyball heavyweights Central Missouri and Concordia-St. Paul along the way. Tampa's weekend in Denver was quite the opposite, dropping all four matches it played.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick two-set lead in their opening match against No. 20 Texas A&M-Commerce. They wouldn't win a set the rest of the evening, as the Lions came all the way back to win 3-2 before Regis swept Tampa in straight sets in the nightcap.
That carried over to the next day, as No. 11 Ferris State took Tampa down in straight-sets before salvaging one set in a 3-1 loss to MSU Denver. This shows what we already know about DII women's volleyball. The top 25, and even those 15 or so deep receiving votes, are so competitive. Any team can beat anyone on any given weekend. Let the rollercoaster at No. 1 begin.
No. 10 Concordia-St. Paul is just fine
The Golden Bears split their opening weekend matches, going 2-2 with losses against Hillsdale and Tampa. That appeared to spark a fire, coming to the Colorado Premier Challenge with something to prove.
Concordia-St. Paul lost just two sets in its run to the finals — and three all weekend — downing West Florida and Regis 3-1 and sweeping Ferris State in straight-sets. That set up the all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference showdown against Southwest Minnesota State. The Mustangs fought the Golden Bears, needing a few extra points to decide the final set, but it was Concordia-St. Paul who won 3-1 and swept through the weekend, earning its second Colorado Premier Challenge championship in a row and third in the past four years.
Speaking of the Mustangs, they are rolling after a stunning 3-0 loss to Michigan Tech on opening night. Southwest Minnesota State rolled into the championship, defeating two top 10 teams in Tarleton and Lewis before facing Concordia. We'll be treated to the NSIC rematch of the Golden Bears and Mustangs when the two meet in a month in St. Paul, Minnesota on Oct. 11. After dropping six spots in the rankings a week ago, you can expect to see the Mustangs jump a few spots come Monday after a strong showing.
How the top 25 fared
You really couldn't have asked for a better lineup for the 2019 rendition of the Colorado Premier Challenge. There is likely to be a shakeup in the top 25 with all the head-to-head action of ranked teams and national powerhouses that faced this weekend. Last season we saw No. 1-ranked teams were never safe for too long, and we may already be heading that way in 2019 after just two weeks.
Even those three teams not in the top — West Florida, MSU Denver and Regis — were receiving votes. The host Rangers showed they may just be top 25 worthy with signature wins against No. 20 Texas A&M-Commerce and No. 1 Tampa.
Lewis joined Southwest Minnesota State and Concordia-St. Paul in delivering a statement, escaping the weekend with a 3-1 record — the only other team to post a winning record this weekend. Ferris State showed impressive moxie, bouncing back after dropping both matches on opening night. The Bulldogs defeated Tampa and Barry to finish the weekend at .500, just like Tarleton State, Central Missouri, Texas A&M-Commerce, West Florida, and Regis.
Here's how the teams did this weekend in Denver.
- No. 1 Tampa — 0-4: L, 3-2 to Texas A&M-Commerce; L, 3-0 to Regis; L, 3-0 to Ferris State; L, 3-1 to MSU Denver
- No. 5 Lewis — 3-1: W, 3-1 over Barry; W, 3-1 over Central Missouri; L, 3-1 to SMSU; W, 3-0 over Regis
- No. 9 Tarleton State — 2-2: L, 3-2 to SMSU; W, 3-2 over MSU Denver; W, 3-1 over Central Missouri; L, 3-1 to West Florida
- No. 10 Concordia-St. Paul — 4-0: W, 3-1 over West Florida; W, 3-0 over Ferris State; W, 3-1 over Regis; W, 3-1 over SMSU
- No. 11 Ferris State — 2-2: L, 3-2 to West Florida; L, 3-0 Concordia; W, 3-0 over Tampa; W, 3-2 over Barry.
- No. 12 Central Missouri — 2-2: W, 3-2 over Barry; L, 3-1 to Lewis; L, 3-1 over Tarleton; W, 3-2 over TAMU-C.
- No. 13 Barry — 1-3: L, 3-1 to Lewis; L, 3-2 to Central Missouri; W, 3-2 over MSU Denver; L, 3-2 to Ferris State
- No. 15 Southwest Minnesota State — 3-1: W, 3-2 over Tarleton State; W, 3-1 over MSU Denver; W, 3-1 over Lewis; L, 3-1 to Concordia
- No. 20 Texas A&M-Commerce — 2-2: W, 3-2 over Tampa; L, 3-0 to Regis; W, 3-1 over West Florida; L, 3-2 to Central Missouri
- RV Regis — 2-2: W, 3-0 over TAMU-C; W, 3-0 over Tampa; L, 3-1 to Concordia; L, 3-0 to Lewis.
- RV West Florida — 2-2: L, 3-1 to Concordia; W, 3-2 over Ferris State; L, 3-1 to TAMU-C; W, 3-1 over Tarleton
- RV MSU Denver — 1-3: L, 3-2 over Tarleton; L, 3-1 over SMSU; L, 3-2 to Barry; W, 3-1 over Tampa
2019 TOURNAMENT INFO: The essential guide to the DII women's volleyball championship