WAC Weekly Column: The awakening of fall sports
We did it. We made it. What is it, you may be wondering? No, not the start of school but the slowest time of the sports calendar year is over with. Goodbye, dog days of mid-July and mid-August, where debates of professional athletes at AAU basketball games are the center of attention. Hello, fall sports season. Namely, the Western Athletic Conference fall sports season.
Inevitably, the season of fall is indeed back — leaves changing, temperature declining, and balls being kicked, hit, bumped, set and spiked. All things listed above are inevitable during the fall, just as lapping around the parking lot for a spot at any time during the school year is at Utah Valley University. The season of fall and sports go together like a Provo all-star and a VASA gym — perfectly.
The WAC fall sports are going to be a great follow, and full of competitive play. The conference consists of nine teams with a 10th coming in the 2020-2021 season and has four sports being played between men and women.
The five fall sports are volleyball, soccer, cross country, golf and tennis. Though, this article will be focusing on volleyball and soccer because the latter three sports do not necessarily have projections for their respective seasons.
All projections are based off the coaches’ poll via WAC sports. The coaches were spot on here with picking New Mexico State as the favorite with UVU, Kansas City and California Baptist and UT Rio Grande Valley tied for fourth. So, let it be known to the coaches of the WAC just how ready the Wolverines are to avenge their 2018 runner-up finish.
UVU was the hottest team at the end of last season as they went into the WAC tournament, where they were not expected to do much. But, we know what happened next. This season a team that could be much like the Wolverines is CBU. They’re still new to the conference, but besides that they’re finally being recognized as a top-four finisher this season with the talent they have returning.
To sum it up, come tournament time, the Wolverines and the Aggies facing off again in the conference tournament championship is something we should see coming. Who prevails? Well, that will all depend on who is the hotter team going into tournament play.
Seattle University is the favorite here for women’s soccer. The Redhawks are followed by UMKC, UTRGV, UVU and Grand Canyon University. This is a very agreeable coaches’ poll, as it was with volleyball. SU has been touted as the favorite once again as they were last season.
The team that can really give SU trouble and potentially knock them off is UMKC. The ‘Roos have the preseason offensive and defensive players of the year in the WAC this season and were only picked a few points behind the Redhawks.
As for the Wolverines — their placing was a bit surprising. For example, they’re coming off of a poor season and was one that was filled with close games. But, UVU is definitely a team who has the talent to finish in the top four and I hope they prove myself and the voters wrong.
SU is the soccer powerhouse this year as the men are picked as the favorite here as well. This is one of the few sports in the WAC that has more than nine teams, as there are 12 for men’s soccer. After SU, the poll goes UTRGV, Air Force and GCU tied for third and the University of Nevada Las Vegas to round it out.
The team that is most fit to potentially knock off SU is Air Force. The Falcons are always picked towards the top of the WAC, and are always a tough team to face on their home field in the high-altitude.
A bonus pick for a team to knock off SU that will perform well is GCU. They’re tied for third with Air Force in the preseason poll and had a solid finish to last season winning the WAC tournament and advancing to the NCAA tournament. The Lopes also boast the preseason defensive player of the year and you know what they say — defense wins championships.
The Wolverines were picked towards the bottom at number seven in the poll. Though they were picked there, they can play above expectations this season because of the talent they have coming back. It’s almost better going into a season with no expectations because there is nowhere to go but up with your level of play. UVU definitely has the talent to finish in the top five by the season’s end.
This concludes a break down of what is the WAC preseason coaches’ poll for volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer. It will be an exciting fall sports season of play in the WAC. For schedules of events, dates and times to get all of your WAC sports and UVU sports fixes, go here.
Photo by Angela Davis