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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | November 6, 2019

What we learned from the first DII women's volleyball regional rankings

Tampa wins 2018 DII volleyball national championship

Selection Monday for the 2019 DII women's volleyball championship is creeping closer, set to air right here on NCAA.com on Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The first regional rankings that shine some light on that potential 64-team field were released Wednesday and there was plenty to walk away with. 

Before we get into some takeaways from the first regional rankings, here's how the eight regions panned out:

Region/Rank School In-Region Record Overall DII record
ATLANTIC      
1 Wheeling 18-0 23-3
2 Gannon 19-1 21-5
3 Shippensburg 21-4 21-4
4 East Stroudsburg 21-3 22-5
5 Shepherd 21-3 23-3
6 Millersville 20-4 20-7
7 Clarion 14-6 16-9
8 Seton Hill 13-7 14-9
9 Mercyhurst 14-11 14-11
10 California University of Pennsylvania 11-11 11-11
CENTRAL      
1 Nebraska-Kearney 23-0 24-0
2 Minnesota Duluth 17-2 20-3
3 Concordia-St. Paul 15-3 19-4
4 Northern State 20-3 20-3
5 St. Cloud State 14-4 19-4
6 Washburn 18-2 22-2
7 Central Missouri 14-5 18-7
8 Northwest Missouri State 16-6 18-6
9 Wayne State (Nebraska) 15-5 19-5
10 Winona State 11-5 18-5
EAST      
1 Molloy 19-2 20-4
2 Bentley 18-2 21-4
3 New Haven 14-4 14-7
4 Bridgeport 20-6 20-6
5 Saint Anselm 17-5 17-8
6 Stonehill 14-8 14-8
7 Georgian Court 20-4 23-5
8 Holy Family 17-7 17-8
9 Adelphi 11-8 11-9
10 Southern New Hampshire 11-6 12-9
MIDWEST      
1 Lewis 13-3 22-4
2 Hillsdale 14-3 19-3
3 Missouri-St. Louis 22-3 23-3
4 Michigan Tech 18-3 19-4
5 Ashland 22-4 22-4
6 Ferris State 15-4 19-5
7 UIndy 15-6 17-7
8 Saginaw Valley State 15-6 17-7
9 Rockhurst 18-5 21-6
10 Bellarmine 16-7 17-9
SOUTH      
1 Tampa 16-2 19-6
2 Lynn 18-4 20-4
3 Embry-Riddle (Florida) 17-3 17-3
4 Barry 10-7 15-10
5 Saint Leo 11-6 17-8
6 West Florida 16-4 18-8
7 Alabama Huntsville 16-3 19-7
8 Eckerd 15-8 17-8
9 Palm Beach Atlantic 11-9 14-11
10 West Georgia 15-9 15-10
SOUTH CENTRAL      
1 Regis (Colorado) 18-1 20-3
2 Angelo State 19-2 21-2
3 Texas A&M-Commerce 18-4 20-5
4 Colorado School of Mines 16-6 17-6
5 Arkansas-Fort Smith 19-5 20-5
6 West Texas A&M 17-3 18-4
7 Metropolitan State University of Denver 16-3 17-5
8 Dixie State 17-5 17-6
9 Tarleton State 11-6 15-9
10 Texas Permian Basin 14-6 15-6
SOUTHEAST      
1 Wingate 24-1 24-1
2 Anderson (South Carolina) 18-3 19-4
3 South Carolina Aiken 23-2 23-2
4 Queens (North Carolina) 18-5 18-5
5 Carson-Newman 19-6 19-6
6 Lander 17-6 18-6
7 Augusta 19-7 20-7
8 Flagler 13-6 18-7
9 Lenoir-Rhyne 14-11 15-11
10 Mars Hill 14-11 14-11
WEST      
1 Cal State San Bernardino 18-0 21-0
2 Western Washington 17-1 21-1
3 Cal State LA 14-3 15-6
4 Alaska Anchorage 15-6 16-6
5 UC San Diego 14-7 15-7
6 Central Washington 12-6 14-8
7 Simon Fraser 14-7 14-8
8 Cal State San Marcos 13-8 14-8
9 Hawaii Hilo 17-6 18-6
10 Azusa Pacific 18-4 18-4

DII women's volleyball championship: How the bracket works

The NCAA DII women's volleyball tournament is made up of 64 teams, eight coming from each of the above eight regions. While the regional rankings give us some insight into how the bracket may shake out, they can also change over the next three weeks. These rankings help us see who to watch and who is currently heading in the right direction.

TOURNEY TIME: How the DII women's volleyball championship works | DII programs with most titles

Of the 64 teams in the tournament, 23 earn automatic bids by winning their conference championships. The rest of the 41 at-large teams are selected based on various standards like DII strength of schedule, in-region record and in-region RPI to name a few. 

Once the selections are made on Nov. 25, play begins in a single-elimination tournament with the first two rounds coming on Dec. 5-8. The final eight teams head to Denver, Colorado to play in the 2019 DII women's volleyball finals, where the new champion will be crowned on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Reigning champion Tampa is alive and well

It's been an odd year for the defending champion Spartans. They won their first four out of the gates, with impressive wins over nationally-ranked Central Missouri and Concordia-St. Paul. They then lost four in a row and six of the next eight, and suddenly the preseason No. 1 was gone from the top 25.

That's all changed. Tampa has won 15 in a row, is back in the top 25 and earned No. 1 in a tricky South Region. As we said, there's a long way to go, but the DII women's volleyball powerhouse looks like they are back on track. Tampa has never won back-to-back crowns, so getting hot down the stretch could translate to a run of historic proportions.

The Central Region is unbelievably good

This doesn't come as a surprise to anyone, as this is always one of the toughest regions in all of DII women's volleyball. After all, Concordia-St. Paul has won nine of the last 12 national championships and isn't even the No. 1 seed.

UNDEFEATED TRACKER: What's left and how we got here for the two remaining perfect teams

That honor goes to Nebraska-Kearney, who is having a season to remember. The Lopers are not simply undefeated — they are undefeated in an MIAA conference that has nationally-ranked teams up and down the standings. Thus far, UNK has gone 8-0 against ranked teams in 2019, and that's downright impressive.

Just how stacked is this region? All 10 ranked teams are in the top 16 of the latest AVCA Coaches Poll. 

How last year's field of 8 fared

We already mentioned that Tampa is back in its familiar No. 1 spot, but how are the rest of the DII women's volleyball finalists ranked?

DII NEWS: Top volleyball stories | Follow the DII hub | Sign up for the DII newsletter

Three teams that battled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last season join Tampa as No. 1s in the first rankings: 24-1 Wingate is atop the Southeast, Lewis sits at No. 1 in the Midwest, and Wheeling — who is a perfect 18-0 in-region — is perched atop the Atlantic.

Western Washington — which won 30-straight games to a national runners-up finish in 2018 — is sitting at No. 2 in the West, but that's because Cal State San Bernardino has yet to lose a match this season. Washburn, which is 22-2 and No. 3 in the country, sits at No. 6 in that tricky Central. Two teams from last year's quarterfinals would be out of the tournament should it start today: Tarleton State sits at No. 9 in the South Central while American International is not even amongst the first 80 teams ranked. 

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