From the Sun Belt Conference
18th-ranked WKU was crowned the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball East Division and Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship No. 1 seed after posting an undefeated record of 15-0 in league play. The league announced the championship seeds and schedule Sunday night.
WKU (29-3, 15-0 SBC) only dropped one set in SBC play and claimed the league's top seed for the fifth time in the last 11 years. It marked the fourth time in school history that a WKU squad went undefeated in league play. The Lady Toppers have won 21 consecutive matches and will look to clinch their third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid on their home court as they host the SBC Championships.
The Lady Toppers led the league this season in hitting percentage (.298), opponent hitting percentage (.142), assists (13.33) and kills (14.20). WKU will square off against eighth-seeded FIU at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Troy (20-11, 10-5 SBC) earned the second-seed and is coming off a 3-0 road victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday. The Trojans held the tiebreak edge over North Texas and UALR based on rule 7.1.1 which states:
"In years which each division plays a different number of conference matches, all teams will first be seeded based on winning percentage. From there, the teams shall be considered tie if either is true:"
7.1.1.b. "If 'stacked teams from opposite divisions' have either the same number of wins or losses. This clause will be enforced following the general tiebreaking procedures of working through from top to bottom. Teams with the same total number of matches may only be tied if they have identical winning percentages."
Troy defeated both NT and UALR to claim the No. 2 spot.
The Trojans set a school record for Sun Belt wins in a season and picked up their first 20-win season in 10 years. Troy led the league in digs per set with a 15.95 mark, anchored by junior Courtney Cohen. In conference matches, junior setter Alexandra Alexander led the league with 11.24 assists per set.
The Trojans will take on No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round of the SBC Championships at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday. Troy dropped the regular season meeting to the Ragin' Cajuns, 3-1 on Oct. 20.
NT (23-11, 9-5 SBC) clinched the third-seed after defeating UALR 3-0 on Sunday. With Troy removed from the three-way tiebreak, NT and UALR split the head-to-head tiebreak with UALR winning 3-2 on Sept. 29. The next tiebreak is total games in the head-to-head, and NT led 5-3 to earn the tiebreak edge.
The Mean Green are led by junior Courtney Windham who leads the league and ranks 31st in the country with 1.31 blocks per set. NT will take on No. 6 Middle Tennessee on at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday in the first round of the SBC Championships. The Mean Green won the regular season meeting, 3-0 on Oct. 7.
UALR (13-13, 9-5 SBC) claimed the fourth spot and a share of the SBC West Division title. The Trojans have won the SBC Championships four-times, most recently in 2000. The UALR offense is paced by sophomore outside-hitter Edina Begic who leads the nation in points per set (5.79) and is second in kills per set (5.11).
The Trojans will face fifth-seeded Arkansas State on 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The two squads split their head-to-head regular season matches.
ASU (18-13, 8-6 SBC) earned the fifth-seed and is coming off a 3-1 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday. The Red Wolves have won the SBC Championship five times, the last coming in 1999. Senior Allison Kearney has aided much of the ASU attack and ranks 34th in the nation with 11.08 assists per set.
MT (10-20, 7-8 SBC) earned the sixth seed after beating out Louisiana-Lafayette and FIU in a three-way tiebreak on Rule 7.1.1, as stated above. All three teams recorded eight conference losses, and the Blue Raiders held the best record (3-0) among the teams in the tiebreak.
MT seeks its fifth SBC Championship crown after winning four of the last six titles. The Blue Raiders are 20-8 (.714) all-time in SBC Championship matches and hold the highest winning percentage of any team. Freshman Chelsea Ross leads the offense with 4.10 kills per set which ranks 44th in the country.
ULL (16-15, 6-8 SBC) grabbed the seventh-seed after owning the tiebreak over FIU. With MT the top team in the tiebreak and removed from the picture, ULL won the head-to-head matchup with a 3-1 victory over the Panthers on Oct. 5.
Head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot's Ragin' Cajun team has qualified for the Sun Belt Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons. Mazeitis-Fontenot is the first ULL coach to lead the team to multiple SBC Tournaments since Chris Campbell made three straight trips from 1999-2001.
FIU (10-18, 7-8 SBC) earned the final spot in the SBC Championships in its very last match, rallying from two sets down to come back and keep its season alive. The Panthers looks for their second SBC Championship title after winning in 2001. FIU also reached the finals in 2006 and 2009. FIU is ranked top 30 in the nation with 2.66 blocks per set.
The 2012 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship is slated for Nov. 15-17, at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. The semifinals will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. with the championship match starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The championship match will available nationally on ESPN3.
The winner of the tournament earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All matches will be streamed for free on www.sunbeltsports.org.
2012 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship Seeds
No. 1 WKU (29-3, 15-0 [1.000] SBC)
No. 2 Troy (20-11, 10-5 [.667] SBC)
No. 3 North Texas (23-11, 9-5 [.643] SBC)
No. 4 UALR (13-13, 9-5 [.643] SBC)
No. 5 Arkansas State (18-13, 8-6 [.571] SBC)
No. 6 Middle Tennessee (10-20, 7-8 [.467] SBC)
No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette (16-15, 6-8 [.428] SBC)
No. 8 FIU (10-18, 7-8 [.467] SBC)
2012 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Championship Schedule of Events
Thursday, November 15
MATCH 1 – 12:00 p.m. CT – No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 2 Troy
MATCH 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT – No. 6 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 3 North Texas
MATCH 3 – 5:00 p.m. CT – No. 8 FIU at No. 1 WKU*
MATCH 4 – 7:30 p.m. CT – No. 5 Arkansas State vs. No. 4 UALR
Friday, November 16
MATCH 5 – 4:00 p.m. CT - Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner
MATCH 6 – 6:30 p.m. CT - Match 3 Winner vs. Match 4 Winner
Championship Saturday, November 17
MATCH 7 – 1:00 p.m. CT - Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner
All times central and subject to change