Photo by Maricel Evangelista
The 2017 regular season came to a close Saturday afternoon for the UVU volleyball team, which closed out its final home stand of the year with a pair of wins over conference foes UMKC and Chicago State. With the victories, the Wolverines finished the year with a 14-15 overall record, including a 9-5 mark in conference play, finding themselves tied for third in the conference standings with Cal State Bakersfield. The tiebreaker goes to UVU by virtue of its win over New Mexico State earlier this season, giving the Wolverines the No. 3 seed for the WAC tournament, the winner of which will punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament to be held later this month.
While some of the higher profile conferences around the country may have multiple teams earning at-large invitations, the WAC will likely only be sending one representative. As the winner of the postseason conference tournament receives the lone automatic bid available, the stakes are high. Last season, the second-seeded Wolverines played their way into the conference championship match, their first such appearance since joining the WAC, where they fell just short to No. 5 seed Texas- Rio Grande Valley.
“I think we know what we did wrong, so we’re not going to do that,” said Dennison. “We’re coming back with a target on our backs, and we have more fight in us right now. We’re just excited to prove that we can do it, because we were so close last year, and it just sucked so bad losing in the championship.”
The 2017 tournament will once again see NMSU granted the top seed, which grants the Aggies a first round bye. No. 2 seed UTRGV is also granted a bye and will await the winner of UVU and UMKC. An interesting scenario existed coming into the final day of the season, where a UVU win and losses by UTRGV and CSUB would set up a three way tie for second place. The situation didn’t exactly unfold that way as UTRGV was able to hold on for its final win of the season, but a CSUB loss facilitated the occurrence of a third-place tie. Holding the tiebreaker over CSUB, UVU will be seeded third and be facing No. 6 seed UMKC in first round action. The Wolverines swept the season series with the ‘Roos with a 3-1 win in Kansas City Oct. 14 and a 3-0 win in Lockhart Arena Nov. 9.
This season’s tournament will be held in Edinburg, Tex., on the campus of UTRGV, which means a win over UMKC would give the Wolverines a match with the host team. First round matches will be held on Nov. 16 with the championship match taking place on Nov. 18. The NCAA tournament selection committee will release its seeding decision on Sunday, November 26, on the Tournament Selection Show, where the WAC tournament champion will learn of its seeding, opponent, and first match location.