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Pond Talk: Week VIII

This past week had some of the most insane action since the beginning of the season. Dive in as we discuss some of the narratives from the last week of matches.

Let’s talk about Lasell. The biggest moment of the week was their 3-1 win over Springfield. Thoughts? 

Ramius: Sure, it’s an awkward loss for Springfield, but they’re still the best team in the country and have the resume to prove it. Winning is a patient process, and it’s not easy. Lasell played to their “35%” chance of victory and were able to execute. Coach Vautrin has a solid program and an Opposite in Jordan Shinaut who we’ll be talking about for the next several years. Great win for the program, the loss to Wentworth puts a damper on the momentum but that just shows how hard winning at this level can be. 

Harvey: Coach Vautrin has done a tremendous job building national recruiting pipelines for the Lasers. He has collected great size and talent in his last few recruiting classes. They served the bejesus out of the ball and really had Springfield uncomfortable. While their win over SC was huge, I think their loss to Wentworth on Thursday shows that this young group has some maturing to do but still super high potential for them in competing for GNAC title. 

Bradley: First things first, I called Springfield was going to drop a match this year, so let’s not forget that. Did I think it was going to be Lasell? Did anyone on planet Earth think it was going to be Lasell? Absolutely not. But I love it. It’s a shame that Lasell dropped their match to Wentworth after the big win, but I would expect to see them crack the AVCA poll this week, as well as the FrogJump Top 20.

Our power ranking has shown the Firebirds metrics to be soaring since their East Coast trip; demonstrated in their 3-1 win over #4 NCC where their numbers were truly mind blowing. Is Carthage back?

Ramius: I think a majority of the landscape was just happy to bash on Carthage for any reason they could at the beginning of the year (which in itself is just stupid but my opinion doesn’t matter). Carthage is an elite team, and I honestly don’t think we’ve seen their ceiling just yet. I have them in my short list of contenders for the NCAA championship this year. 

Harvey: Let me begin by saying Carthage never left. They had a challenging open weekend, playing NYU without Sliv and playing a then underrated Stevens. When they are at their best, Carthage is the best contender we have to Springfield. I am worried for the health and safety of opponents anytime Slivinski is attacking the ball. The challenge for JW is to work through the strange times where their consistency drops off. Taking recent performances into consideration, I think Carthage currently have the crown as the best of the midwest. 

Bradley: After watching the match against NCC, I think Carthage can be so up-and-down. With that being said, I think they’ve gotten much better since the beginning of the year, but they still have some kinks to work out. I still have Carthage as conference favorites.

A similar narrative, the New Paltz metrics have also been rising following their underwhelming start to the season. They’re currently on an 8-match win streak following a sweep of UVC rival St. John Fisher and MSOE. Thoughts?

Ramius: I think the Hawks have been able to effectively build momentum since their California trip and have pieces to stand toe to toe with anyone. The issue is always going to be consistency, as their play style is known to be streaky and mistake prone (this goes back all the way to my time in the jersey). The UVC is shark tank, and a win over SJF is nice (especially after this weekend) but they still have Vassar, MIT, Nazareth, and NYU to contend with. It’s a long way till April. 

Harvey: I think it shows a bit of growth from New Paltz as well as the streaks their style of play tends to lead to (specifically from the service line). They still have four important conference showdowns left, including a trip to Vassar. I wish we could have seen them compete against RUN this weekend, so fingers crossed it gets rescheduled. 

Bradley: I think that the win over SJFC really says a lot about this Hawks team and how far they’ve come. Furthermore, now that SJFC went on to beat Vassar and NYU this past weekend, the win looks even better on the Hawks’ resume. New Paltz currently stands atop the toughest conference in the country and is playing some good ball. They are entering the toughest stretch of their schedule; Springfield x2, NYU, Vassar, Elmira and Nazareth. A good run for this New Paltz team, but more work to be done.

The UVC was thrown for a loop this weekend, as Vassar was upset by St. John Fisher and Elmira stunned MIT in cincosets. What do these results tell you about the conference this year?

Ramius: I think it says a lot about the talent of SJF first and foremost. They started the season fairly hot and were as high as #4 in our model before meeting Juniata and Rutgers. They are one of the 10 teams in the country hitting over .300 for the year and have a core of players that are about as talented as anyone. People forget this team beat New Paltz twice last year and was one set away from beating Vassar in the UVC semis. The Cardinals are good, it’s that simple.

Second, and I’m sure the other contributors will agree, the UVC has time and again always been the most competitive conference in the D3VB landscape. It doesn’t matter what your record is, it doesn’t matter how good you are, because if you don’t execute your game plan in a UVC match you will very likely lose. Elmira under Coach Miranda has been making steady progress over the last few seasons, so I’m not “shocked” they were able to stun MIT (and kudos to them all because MIT is very talented), but it’s definitely an upset I didn’t have on my radar. This is the nature of the UVC, either perform or get eaten. This is the way.

Harvey: The UVC is a shark tank, and you can get beaten on any night if you don’t show up. Top to bottom, I would still take Vassar over the field in conference but there is always a chance to get knocked off if you aren’t ready to go to war to that evening

Bradley: I wouldn’t say this is something I didn’t expect. When your conference is a gauntlet of powerhouses, crazy things happen, and upsets occur. The UVC champion will come down to who is playing the best ball in April, as it always has.

Who’s on upset alert next week?

Ramius: In order of most likely upsets, 1) St. John Fisher over Marymount 2) Stevenson over Juniata 3) New Paltz over Springfield. 

Bradey: I’ll take Stevenson over Juniata and of course, New Paltz over Springfield in the Hawks’ nest.

Harvey: I’ll put Marymount on upset watch. They have 4 tough D3 matches in California against Cal Lutheran, SJFC, Aurora, and Baldwin Wallace. 

As always, who is your top 5?

Ramius: Springfield, Carthage, Vassar, Dominican, North Central

Harvey: Springfield, Dominican, Carthage, Vassar, Southern Virginia

Bradley: Springfield, Dominican, Vassar, Stevens, Carthage

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