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2015 D3 Volleyball Championships: Why Not Us?

Updated on November 2, 2016

The field for the 2015 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championships was released on Monday, November 9th and sixty-four teams were chosen to compete for the title. For those unaware, the NCAA volleyball field is completed by taking the automatic qualifiers from forty-four conferences and then twenty at-large selections.

A committee of eight coaches, one from each of the eight regions in the country, selects the twenty at-large teams. There are set criteria for picking those squads and they include, in no set order of preference:

  1. Won-Lost Percentage against D3 Opponents
  2. Division III Head-to-Head Competition
  3. Results Versus Common D3 Opponents
  4. Results Versus ranked D3 Opponents at the time of selection (including conference tournaments)
  5. D3 Strength of Schedule:
    2/3 Opponents Winning Percentage (OWP), 1/3 Opponents Opponents Winning Percentage (OOWP)
  6. Won-Lost Percentage during the last 25% of the season.

Now that the criteria is laid out, let's see who were the notable omissions from the field and see the deserving teams that got excluded. Here are the teams that headline the All-Snubbed Squads.

On to the List!


Da' Bears

Ohio Northern headlines a list of teams that were deserving of a bid to the National Tournament. With an overall record of 24-6, 8-1 record in the OAC, and a close five-set loss to Heidelberg in the conference championship, the Bears seem to have a solid resume.

The case for them:

The OAC is traditionally one of the stronger conferences in the country along with the WIAC, SCIAC, UAA, MIAA, CCIW, and MIAC. They were sitting in the sixth spot in the final Regional Rankings prior to the conference tournaments, and were in front of at-large pick Case Western Reserve. The same Case Western Reserve team that lost to Bethany (W.V.) and Hiram in the last 25% of their season.

Why they probably didn't make it:

With only one win against ranked teams (Hope, #3 Great Lakes) and a few tough losses that included at-large team Illinois Wesleyan, they might not have had the heft at the top to earn their way in. It's the same reason why an Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops squad with a 26-6 overall record was likely left out as well. Either that or the committee really didn't like programs with mascots that start with the letter 'B.'


The Carnegie Mellon Tartans are the next team up in the overlooked list. With an overall record of 27-7 and 4-3 in the UAA, they had a solid resume for inclusion into the field.

The case for them:

Wins over Stevenson, Chicago, and New Paltz gave them some solid wins over ranked teams. They've got a solid D3 win percentage and losses to Emory, WashU, Juniata, and Eastern can be forgiven.

Why they probably didn't make it:

The bubble started to burst for many a team when the NEWMAC Tournament semifinals took place. When Springfield (29-3) and MIT (29-3) both lost, that shortened the field of at-large teams by two. No fruit basket for either of those teams (yum, yum!). Losing to fellow bubble teams in Case Western late in the season and Chicago at the UAA Championships likely sealed their fate.


The Union (NY) College Dutchwomen are next. With a 29-6 overall record and 9-3 in the Liberty League, they were certainly tournament worthy.

The case for them:

Union was sitting in the second slot of the last Regional Rankings, albeit in one of the weakest regions in the country. Half of their losses were to the number one team in the region (Clarkson) and another was to St. Michael's, which isn't even in D3. With seven wins against colleges that appeared in the Regional Rankings, they had the heft of numbers on their side.

Why they probably didn't make it:

The committee seemed pretty consistent in rewarding teams that won the last match in a head-to-head split. That was the case between Williams and Union. They also suffer from guilt by association with Clarkson who lost to bubble-teams in Berry and Elmhurst. When Clarkson went out and lost, they certainly didn't help the New York Region perceive a strong case for it's at-large teams.

A last point is that their best regionally ranked win came against a team ranked sixth. It's likely a safe bet that other squads had one or more wins versus top regional teams and one thing the National Committee looks for in awarding an at-large bid is the ability to win the region. Union (NY) never proved they could compete with the top teams in any region.


Biggest Surprise Selection?

That honor had to go to Williams. The Ephs got in with an 18-10 overall record and were sitting in seventh place in the final New England Region rankings. The region pulled twelve bids to the tournament and is often seen as one of the two weakest along with New York, which got zero at-large teams into the tournament.

The case for them:

Their schedule. With fifteen ranked schools on the docket out of twenty-eight matches, they went out and played anyone and everyone they could who was good. With a 7-8 record in those matches, they built enough of a case to overlook some iffy losses. They had also been in the Elite 8 recently and were still benefiting from name value.

Why they probably shouldn't have made it:

They had twice as many D3 losses as Union (NY) and split with them head-to-head. Losses to Wellesley and Millikin seemed relatively ignored. And their last nine matches were 4-5. Hardly a strong point for inclusion into the tournament.

Which program was the biggest snub of 2015?

See results

Being a member of the National Committee can be a thankless job filled with stress. Hopefully, the article showed why each team could have made it or been excluded from the field.

This year, I certainly have a bias being from the New York Region and would have liked to have seen Union (NY) make it in. But, as is the case with every team, they left a reason to either put them in or leave them out. Hopefully, each team learns from it and builds on their weaknesses for next season.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great read!