WAC Weekly: What to look out for
It’s time to mark these dates down — what dates exactly? The dates of WAC play beginning for each fall sport! Yes, it is finally upon us, the time where we inch closer to crowning the regular season and conference tournament champions in each sport.
But first, what exactly should we be looking out for? Well remember this, the journey can be just as sweet as the final destination. So, let us take a look at what these journeys of our top three fall team sports may have in store.
WAC play begins for women’s soccer on Friday, Oct. 4, with Seattle University visiting Chicago State. Your Wolverines first conference game will take place on the road Sunday, Oct. 6 against California State University, Bakersfield.
The current standings show the University of Missouri-Kansas City sitting atop the leaderboard. They’re followed by California Baptist University and UT Rio Grande Valley. What can we look for out of these standings? Well, the ‘Roos seem primed for another first-place finish in the regular season with their stout goalkeeping and defensive play.
There will be many teams hot on UMKC’s heels though, especially preseason favorite Seattle University who currently sits in fifth place, one spot above Utah Valley University.
What players are standing out above the rest? It only makes sense to first list the leader of three major categories, UMKC’s sophomore forward Rylan Childers, who leads the WAC in goals, assists and points. Another sophomore of mention is UVU forward Julianna Carter. She’s second in the WAC in goals and tied for second in points.
WAC play will begin for the men as soon as Saturday, Sept. 28, when UMKC visits Air Force. UVU will start out in conference at home against Houston Baptist University on the same date at 7:30 p.m. MST.
UTRGV sits atop the table followed by, Grand Canyon University and SU. Not many games separate the top three from the rest of the WAC table though. Which can lead us to believe the regular season title may just be fair game for all.
The Wolverines are sitting in fifth place right now, only a draw keeps them just behind University of the Incarnate Word, who’s in fourth. Being right at .500 right now isn’t something UVU should scoff at, as they’re already in position to finish better than last season by regular season’s end.
Who’s standing out on the men’s side? First name of mention is UVU’s own senior forward Blake Frischknecht. He’s currently tied for first in goals scored with four, tied for second in total points with eight and second in shots taken. Frischknecht is on a great pace to lead both those categories by season’s end, with three of his four goals coming in his last three games.
Another name that can’t be ignored is a player who’s up there on the offensive leaderboard with Frischknecht. SU’s Noe Meza, a junior forward, is currently tied in goals scored with four and, tied for first in total points at nine. Meza leads the Redhawks into WAC play with high hopes — as SU was the preseason favorite to win the conference outright.
Volleyball is set to kick-off WAC play before each of the other sports. They started on Thursday, Sept. 26 with three games all beginning at 6 p.m. MST. One of those three games includes your Wolverines, who take on defending tournament champion New Mexico State at home.
At the top of the standings sits GCU followed by, NMSU and SU. GCU is a bit of a surprise up to this point as they weren’t favored at all towards the top in the preseason polls. NMSU though, looks as good as advertised being touted to take the WAC in the preseason polls.
The biggest surprise though, is shocking in a wrong way— close your eyes Wolverine fans — yes, it’s your UVU Wolverines. UVU was picked second in the preseason polls behind NMSU and even got a couple first-place votes too. So, what’s so shocking? The fact that UVU currently sits in dead last and has almost hit their loss total from last year heading into WAC play.
If there’s any team not in the top three that has the resiliency and toughness to push through and finish strong with a winning WAC record, I strongly believe it’s UVU.
A few players to keep an eye out for starts with, UTRGV’s senior right side hitter Barbara Silva. She currently leads the conference in kills at 186 to go along with a kill per set rate of 3.58, good enough for second in the WAC. Her team sits in fourth heading into WAC play, and she may just be the reason they come out on top.
The other player of mention is GCU’s Teagan DeFalco, a junior libero. DeFalco is currently third in digs with 220, and second in digs per set at 4.58. She is a major reason why the Lopes are currently atop the standings heading into WAC play.
Expect the unexpected
Those are just a few of many names and noteworthy storylines to watch out for, as positioning will change and others may standout. A key thing to remember while watching this all unfold is to expect the unexpected — a champion could arise from anywhere. For more information on teams, players and other storylines, go here.