GREENVILLE, S.C. -- For the Sabercats, the 2019 NCCAA DII Volleyball National Tournament is distinctly similar to 2019. Both years, the Sabercats were given the #2 seed. Both years, the Sabercats will have to get past Toccoa Falls and Geneva. But the only repeat the Sabercats will be sure to avoid is the national championship loss that they took to Bob Jones last year.
In the pool-play format, each team plays each other with the top two teams advancing to the national semifinals. The winner of Pool B will face the Pool A runner-up, and vice versa.
This year's tournament has seven returning teams from last year, and the Sabercats face a competitive Pool B:
#2 Maranatha (23-4)
The Sabercats are the favorites for Pool B for a few reasons.
First, they return their entire starting line-up from their national-runner-up finish in 2018. Second, they have a proven track record at the national stage, winning three of the last four national titles. And third, their regular-season and regional form leave them red-hot coming into nationals: MBU has won 13 of their last 14 matches coming into this week.
Over their last four NCCAA national tournaments, the Sabercats have dropped just one match, going a noteworthy 23-1 at the national stage.
Numerous student-athletes are on the brink of career records and milestones as well, so this week could be a celebratory one both individuals- and team-wise.
#3 Geneva (24-9)
Yes, the Sabercats are favorited, but Geneva is simply too good to be ignored. The Golden Tornadoes almost didn't come to Nationals because they almost went deep into their NCAA DIII conference tournament. Geneva is competitive no matter where they play, and they advanced to the national semifinal in 2018.
Geneva has four players with 200 kills or more this season, and their 5-1 rotation has proven effective against NCCAA and NCAA DIII schools alike.
Although they are the #3 seed, the Golden Tornadoes' power rating is superior to the Sabercats'. But the flip-flop of the #2/#3 seeding only makes a difference in terms of the order of opponents.
Another interesting note is that Geneva's NCCAA DII record this year is just 2-0. They hadn't faced an NCCAA school until the NCCAA Mideast Region Tournament, where they breezed through the semifinal and championship only dropping one set.
#6 Toccoa Falls (17-10)
The Screaming Eagles are at the national tournament after losing at the South Region Tournament.
TFC gave the Sabercats a real scare in 2018, as they were on the brink of winning multiple times in a five-set thriller. TFC enters the tournament with 17 wins on the season and an 8-5 record in NCCAA play. The Screaming Eagles only graduated two seniors from 2018, so they could be a legitimate dark horse in the tournament.
Toccoa Falls has only been to the national tournament seven times in their lengthy NCCAA history, but they have advanced to nationals for three seasons in a row now.
#7 Randall (19-15)
Randall enters the tournament with a winning record as the #7 seed. Randall saw their region fall to the hands of Arlington Baptist, but they still manage to qualify as an at-large recipient, entering the tournament for the fourth year in a row.
The Saints have shown flashes of brilliance this season, as they took the perennial regional favorites, Arlington Baptist, to a five-set thriller back in October. Randall also had a five-match winning streak going into their regional tournament, but they fell cold in the championship, taking their loss to ABU in straight sets.
Randall was an almost-perfect 12-1 on their home floor this season, so getting to face them away from the comfort of Oklahoma will be another advantage for the Sabercats.
Here is an overview of Pool B:
|Pool B||Qualifying Method||Location||W-L||Power Rating||2018 Finish|
|#2 Maranatha||North Champion||Watertown, Wis.||23-4||4.615||Runner-Up|
|#3 Geneva||Mideast Champion||Beaver Falls, Pa.||24-9||4.789||Semifinal|
|#6 Toccoa Falls||At-Large (South)||Toccoa, Ga.||17-10||3.202||First Round|
|#7 Randall||At-Large (Southwest)||Moore, Okla.||19-15||3.083||First Round|