As each and every college volleyball season passes, I think that year was the best yet. Then the next year comes.
Well, yet again, we had an unbeatable, historic 2022 DI women's volleyball championship. This time, the Texas Longhorns took home the trophy for the first time in a decade. But on top of that, new paths were paved, progress was made, dreams came true, things that have never happened before... happened, and so much more.
Here are some of the best moments from the 2022 DI women's volleyball tournament ... ones that we will never forget:
There was some unprecedented conference parity in the national semifinals
History was made this season in the national semifinals. For the first time in the entire existence of NCAA women's volleyball, no Big Ten or Pac-12 team advanced to the national semifinals to compete for a title. If you would have told me this at the beginning of the season, I don't think I would've believed you. The Big Ten was so dominant this season, with multiple teams — Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota, etc. — in national contention. The Pac-12 had Stanford, as a No. 1 seed in the tournament this season, and they too were knocked off in the regional finals. Instead, Texas, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Louisville met in Omaha for the semifinals. One Big 12 team, two ACC teams and a WCC team. This year had so much parity, and the teams that advanced to the championship further proved that point. It shows just how much the sport has grown, and how much more is still to come. Volleyball has been dominated by the same 10 or so teams for years, and this year was a big step in the opposite direction.
We saw some great first-round upsets, highlighted by Auburn taking down No. 4 Creighton
Upsets happened early and often in the tournament this season — another testament to this season's parity. No. 8 Hawaii was ousted in the first round by LSU, Georgia took down No. 8 Towson in the opening round as well, and most notably, No. 4 Creighton — a host in the tournament — was defeated right out of the gates by Auburn. It was just the second postseason win in Auburn's program history and the first over a seeded opponent. They pulled off the win behind double-doubles from Jackie Barrett and Akasha Anderson, and a team-leading 17 kills from Madison Scheer.
Mimi Colyer and Oregon went on a big tournament run
We always have that one under-the-radar team that goes on a big run in the tournament. This year, it was Oregon. The Ducks were SO close to advancing to the national semifinals after pulling off a HUGE win over Nebraska to advance to the regional finals and then just barely fell to No. 1 seed Louisville in five. They pulled off this run largely-in-part due to the contributions from AVCA National Freshman of the Year,Mimi Colyer. Colyer joined first-team All American Brooke Nuneviller for Oregon this season, and the combo was lethal. It is rare that you have ONE player on your team with over 500 kills, and Oregon had two. Colyer totaled 533 and Nuneviller added 505. This team was so much fun to watch and fought down to the wire in every single match. Get excited for many more years of Colyer.
Two incredible five-set upsets sent San Diego and Pitt to the national semifinals
The regional finals were incredible this season, especially the two five-set matchups between San Diego-Stanford and Pitt-Wisconsin. The Panthers took down Wisconsin in one of the craziest five-set thrillers I have ever witnessed. The Badgers stormed back in the fifth set on a crazy 6-0 run, in the Fieldhouse, and Pitt still found a way to win it in the final moments. It was edge-of-your-seat volleyball. Watch the full fifth set here ⬇️
Transfer portal madness proved successful for many teams in the tournament
In the beginning of the season, one of my main storylines was how the transfer portal madness would shake out. So many teams filled holes on their rosters with players out of the portal. Pitt added Courtney Buzzerio to be their main offensive piece, Texas added Madi Skinner and Zoe Fleck among others, Wisconsin added Sarah Franklin, Nebraska added Kaitlyn Hord, San Diego added Gabby Blossom... so on, so forth. We had no idea how that would shake out and how much that would impact the success of each team. Well, Pitt, Texas and San Diego competed in the national semifinals and proved just how much it worked. San Diego is likely the best example. This team was knocked out of the first round of the 2021 tournament, as an unseeded team. After adding Gabby Blossom, the Toreros were a No. 2 seed in the tournament and advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in program history.
🎬 CINEMATIC RECAP: Watch courtside highlights of Texas' national championship win
Louisville took down Pitt 15-2 in the fifth set to head to the title match
What a dominant performance we saw, unlike any other. Louisville and Pitt were so familiar with each other heading into the national semifinals, so we were bound for a great matchup. When it went to five, no one was surprised. But, when the Cards came out and almost blanked the Panthers in the fifth, we were all jaw-dropped. At least I was. PK Kong went off in the fifth set, roofing the Panthers point after point as they went on to score eight in a row, then win 15-2 to clinch a spot in the national championship. Watch this crazy fifth set here ⬇️
An ACC team played in the national title match for the first time in history
With two ACC teams, Pitt and Louisville, facing off in the national semifinals, history was bound to be made. No ACC team has ever played for the national championship before. But for the first time in program history, Louisville reached the title match. And I have a good feeling these two teams, if not others in the conference, will be back.
The Logan Eggleston prophecy came true (The National AVCA Player of the Year has now won that year's title for each of the past three seasons)
All season long, I was harping about Logan Eggleston and the Texas Longhorns feeling a whole lot similar to Dana Rettke and the Wisconsin Badgers in 2021. Last season, Rettke finally won the title after years of trying and in her fifth and final season — she won AVCA Player of the Year, too. This season, Eggleston finally won the title after years of trying and in her fifth and final season — she also won AVCA Player of the Year. This is the third consecutive season that the NPOY also won the national championship. Before Rettke, Madison Lilley won the title for Kentucky and NPOY in the same season.
Texas won its first title in 10 years
At last, we saw Jerritt Elliott and the Texas Longhorns win their first national title since 2012. The Longhorns had been in the championship match three times in that span, but fell short. With Eggleston in her final season, Asjia O'Neal in her last go-around too, Madi Skinner, Zoe Fleck and more, they could not be denied. The Longhorns faced an extremely talented team in Louisville in the final match and not only won, but swept. The Longhorns were the No. 1 team all season, and came out on top, without a doubt.