The Colorado Premier Challenge is set for Sept. 10-11 from the campuses of MSU Denver and Regis (CO). The use of the word “Premier” is not just a clever marketing gimmick. Every year an elite field converges on the Denver area for this exciting tournament. This year is no different.
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There are a pair of former national champions, including the reigning champion Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes. Eleven of the 12 teams received at least 39 votes in the latest AVCA Coaches poll with six of the 12 — No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul, No. 2 Angelo State, No. 5 Lewis, No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino, No. 9 Western Washington and No. 10 Central Missouri — all falling in the top 10.
And, there’s more. Four of the 12 teams were No. 1 seeds in the last 64-team bracket back in 2019. Eleven of these teams in this weekend's field made the 2019 DII women’s volleyball tournament.
Yes, indeed. This field is about as premier as you can get.
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So, what do you need to know about this year’s tournament? Here’s a look at one thing to know about each team in the 2021 Colorado Premier Challenge (all rankings are from the Sept. 6 AVCA Coaches poll).
Get to know the field at the Colorado Premier Challenge
No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul — The Golden Bears have the most national championships in DII women’s volleyball history, winning nine since 2007. It should come as no surprise that they also have the most Colorado Premier Challenge titles with seven, including the last two played in 2018 and 2019.
No. 2 Angelo State — The Rambelles swept the opening Kathleen Brasfield Angelo State Invitational last week to open the season 4-0. Dating back to last spring, that’s three-straight tournaments the Belles have won, including the spring Lone Star Conference tournament and AVCA national championship. Angelo State hit a speed bump Tuesday night in an upset by Adams State. Let’s see how the Belles respond against this field.
No. 5 Lewis — As long as Lorelee Smith is head coach, picking Lewis to make the NCAA tournament will make you look like a genius. Why? Smith took over the Flyers in 2007 and 390 wins later has never missed the NCAA tournament. With no DII women’s volleyball last year, she led the Flyers to 16-consecutive wins to start the season and 17-2 overall record in GLVC play.
No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino — The Yotes are defending champs after a 33-0 season. That was just the third undefeated season in the history of DII women’s volleyball and first since Concordia-St. Paul did it in 2009. Luckily for us, the two face off Friday at 8 p.m. ET in a matchup of two great programs.
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No. 9 Western Washington — Surprisingly, this is the Vikings first trip to the Colorado Premier Challenge. The Vikings have made nine-straight trips to the DII tournament, finishing as national runner-up in 2018. Fun fact: the Vikings have twins Chloe Roetcisoender (born Biscup) and Tess Biscup on the team. Both have nearly identical point totals so far, with Biscup at 32 and Roetcisoender at 31.5.
No. 10 Central Missouri — The Jennies are certainly getting a scenic start to their 2021 season. First, they swept through the Seawolf Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska and now the beautiful back drop of the Rocky Mountains in Denver. Defenses better watch out against the Jennies: Since taking over as head coach, Flip Piontek has never lost when the Jennies hit .300 or better, sitting at a perfect 120-0 entering the season.
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No. 17 Wayne State (NE) — The Wildcats are the only team in the field not to make the last NCAA DII women’s volleyball tournament in 2019. They obviously didn’t forget that, sweeping through the DBU Invitational to open the season 3-0. The Wildcats have made only one appearance in the Colorado Premier Challenge back in 2010 — when they went 4-0 to win the whole thing.
No. 20 MSU Denver — The Roadrunners are one of four teams — and two in this tournament — to make every NCAA tournament of the 2000s. That’s 20-straight appearances in the NCAA DII women’s volleyball championship for MSU Denver, tied for third with Cal State San Bernardino and trailing both Tampa (24) and Nebraska-Kearney (21).
No. 25 Rockhurst — Trent Jones has some big shoes to fill. The Rockhurst head coach is entering his first full season in the position after he debuted in the shortened spring season. He is replacing Tracy Rietzke who is the second winningest head coach in DII women’s volleyball history. He got the season off on the right foot, as the Hawks took down No. 19 Harding 3-0 on opening night.
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RV Regis (CO) — One of the tournament hosts, Regis had a tough go in Week 1. The Rangers lost to defending champion Cal State San Bernardino on opening night and finished 2-2 at the Seaside Invitational. Now they get to open their own tournament against Angelo State, the defending AVCA national champions.
RV Lynn — Lynn rewrote the program record books in 2019, finishing 28-5, capturing its first-ever SSC crown and earning the first No. 1 seed for the NCAA DII tournament in their program history. Now, the Fighting Knights will appear in their first-ever Colorado Premier Challenge, drawing Angelo State in their first match. Lauren Odom, who seems to set a program record in each match, is one of the best defenders in the division.
Texas A&M-Commerce — The Lions are the lone unranked team in the field, coming off a 7-7 spring. The good news is all the starters from that spring team return. This weekend will be the first action for the Lions after canceling their trip to the Southeastern Classic. The Lions will learn a lot about themselves quickly with two top-20 matchups on Friday against No. 10 Central Missouri and No. 20 MSU Denver.