Posted by: Ethan Johnson | November 15, 2010

NCAA D-III Women’s Volleyball Rounds 1-3

Carthage huddle

Before I get into the NCAA tournament recap of sorts, I have been remiss in mentioning that Carthage College won the CCIW Tournament earlier this month. Would that momentum propel them through the opening rounds of the NCAA D-III women’s volleyball tournament, which was, no pressure, hosted regionally by Carthage?

Round 1: Carthage vs UW-Oshkosh

First off, thanks, Carthage athletic department for not mentioning that this event required paid admission. I couldn’t believe that the NCAA would put on a free tournament but advance warning would have been helpful. A mad dash to the on-campus ATM later, and I secured my spot in the stands.

UW-Oshkosh looked formidable in their warm-up, but when it came time for the actual game Carthage was too much to handle. I have divined that Carthage are masters of deception, and they pulled off some clever moves that I hadn’t seen them use during the regular season – what of it I saw, anyway. Oshkosh went down in straight sets, which brings us to…

Round 2: Carthage vs UW-Platteville

Platteville came into this game with one more win than Carthage, but fewer losses. I wondered if that might be cause for concern. What also worried me was that Carthage didn’t seem to be serving particularly well during warm-ups.

Something seemed “off” with Carthage in this game. I couldn’t find #13 Emily Stein with a map, and she is usually Carthage’s scoring threat from the serve. #9 on UWP was their ace, apparently, and even though Stein was in the game Carthage just wasn’t gelling very well, and their clever fake moves came off as desperation tactics. Long story short (he says, not giving many details to begin with), Carthage got swept out of the tournament. I felt badly for Carthage but the fact was that UWP just outclassed them. I spoke to head coach Leanne Ulmer after the game and commented that while it was a tough loss, I for one am excited about next year. Tough losses like this one are “teachable moments”, and school was definitely in session for…

Round 3: Washington-St Louis vs UW-Platteville

I wasn’t going to attend this game at first, but my mission should and often does inform my decisions, and I felt that it was important to be present for the final round of the regional tournament to support women’s volleyball as a sport, not solely Carthage College as a school. But both are excellent.

I had my sister and brother-in-law in tow, and after initial resistance they were totally into the game. We sat in the back row and my sister bonked her head on the metal railing behind us while cheering for Washington. (She’s fine.) I decided I wanted Washington to win partly for the revenge factor on Platteville, and partly because they’re the host school for the final this coming weekend. I asserted that there has to be enormous pressure on them to win and be there to represent on their home turf.


But Washington didn’t play like a team under pressure. There were a few scary moments when it appeared that Platteville might win a set, but Washington just played through the adversity and stuck to their guns. As a side note, Leanne Ulmer and her assistant coaches were in the stands, as were a few of the Carthage players. I was pleased to see them, as I presume the coaches took the opportunity to learn from the teams that advanced to the third round. One key difference: Neither team uses deceptive tactics to score points. it was pure power against pure power.

Washington proved to be too much for Platteville and sent them home in straight sets. Carthage: Avenged. Home turf: Represented upon this coming weekend.

I have to mention that we were very entertained by the martial arts-esque serving style of #8 on Washington. My sister got a photo with her new iPhone:

Washington service

Now with kung-fu grip!

So: On to the next rounds and the final in St Louis this weekend. I won’t be there in person, but information about the tournament including ticketing information may be found here.

Congratulations to Carthage College for a fantastic women’s volleyball season. Next, I’m looking forward to women’s basketball.



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