After suffering a loss to UNLV last weekend, the CSU volleyball team moved down from No. 7 to No. 10 in the AVCA Division 1 rankings, snapping an 18-game winning streak.
The supremacy is over.
Or is it?
Though the Rams moved down in the national coaches poll, there is another ranking that carries more weight with regard to the NCAA tournament. A team’s RPI ranking largely determines seeding and host sites for the tournament, and there’s no doubt hosting first and second rounds matches is a huge advantage.
“Moby is way different,” senior setter Deedra Foss said, “You go to other schools and it’s like a high school gym, and then you come here and we get a couple thousand people. The atmosphere here is like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”
Though head coach Tom Hilbert consistently emphasizes that winning the Mountain West title is their main goal, it’s obvious that the team wants to play tournament matches in Moby, and the fans want it too.
“That would be so awesome,” sophomore volleyball fan Elena Eidson said, “They put so much time into it, and to host matches for the tournament would really be great, they’d get a lot of support I think.”
The RPI system is a formula that ranks teams based on three things proportionally: a team’s winning percentage (25 percent), its opponents’ winning percentage (50 percent), and it’s opponents’ winning percentage against teams they play (25 percent). Last year, the Rams went 28-1 but did not get to host tournament matches because of a weaker RPI ranking at No. 23.
Ultimately, they were knocked off in the first round. This year, things have been slightly different.
With a noticeably tougher schedule than last year, the Rams’ 23-2 record shows wins against teams ranked fairly high in the RPI, with the likes of Marquette (21), BYU (28), ASU (32), and Wyoming (55). Their first loss came at the hands of AVCA No. 4 ranked Wisconsin (No. 5 in RPI).
So, this loss to UNLV doesn’t hurt so much. The Rams already recorded one win against UNLV earlier in the year, which could be the cause of the Rams moving up instead of down in RPI rankings after a loss.
Because UNLV beat CSU and Wyoming last week, their RPI jumped up 6 spots to No. 57, which in effect improved the Rams’ RPI because of strength of schedule.
Even though it looks and feels better to be No. 7 instead of 10 in the AVCA, in the long run that loss might help out. First of all, almost any coach will tell you that success breeds complacency, and after that loss one can assume the Rams have been awoken again. Second, without that loss the Rams would be just on the brink- if not outside- the top 16 RPI teams.
Teams in the top 16 of the RPI typically get to host first and second round matches in the tournament, so that No. 13 RPI ranking gives the Rams a little wiggle room to bring the tourney to Fort Collins.
Thanks for keeping’ track with Zac.
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Zac Koch can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @zactkoch