Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament Field Set

  0 Braden Keith | November 15th, 2017 | News

2017 Sun Belt Volleyball Championship Tournament

The top 4 teams in each of the Sun Belt Conference’s 2 divisions have advanced to the 2017 Sun Belt Volleyball Championship Tournament in Jonesboro, Arkansas, beginning on Thursday. The teams will play in a modified 8-team bracket, where the bottom #5-#8 seeds play in the 1st round, the #3 and #4 seeds enter in the 2nd round (quarterfinals), and the two division champions enter in the semi-finals as the top two seeds.

Coastal Carolina (15-1 Sun Belt) out of the East Division and Texas State (14-2 Sun Belt) out of the West Division will have a significant advantage, in that all contenders will have to play at least 1 (if not 2) games before Coastal Carolina and Texas State have to get out of their proverbial beds.

Top-seeded Coastal Carolina are the defending conference tournament champions, and now have two-straight regular season titles as well. They play in by-far the easiest of the two divisions, however, leaving Texas State as the more battle-tested of the two teams. Their only two conference losses was a sweep at the hands of South Alabama in their season-opener and a 3-2 loss to West Division #2 Louisiana.

The Bobcats also have one big ace up their sleeves: in their only 2017 matchup against Coastal Carolina, Texas won 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-20). That outcome was an ugly match – Texas State hit .157, coastal Carolina hit .065, and the Bobcats had 8 aces (they’re not a team that traditionally serves a lot of aces). That’s Coastal Carolina’s only loss of the season, finishing the year with a 12-game winning streak.

Coastal Carolina is having a boom-or-bust season offensively. Senior outside hitter Leah Hardman, who this week was named the conference’s Player of the Year for the 2nd-straight season, ranks 14th nationally in points-per-set (5.18) and 12th nationally in kills-per-set (4.59/set). But the team leans on her heavily, she gets almost 11 attacks per set, more than any other player in the Sun Belt. In spite, the team led the conference in hitting percentage – but they hit just .244 in the offensively-anemic Sun Belt.

The Chanticleers hit over .300 6 times this season, but they also hit under .200 on 8 occasions (including 4 times in Sun Belt play). They shouldn’t give up 8 aces again if the meet Texas State in the championship game, but something that the Bobcats were doing was frustrating Coastal Carolina’s focus (it might be Texas State’s league-best 17.12 digs/set, leading to a conference-best .156-against hitting percentage).

Our Prediction

We expect this tournament to go pretty much by-seed early:

  • #6 UTA def. #7 Appalachian State
  • #5 S. Alabama def. #8 Troy
  • #3 Louisiana def. #6 UTA
  • #4 Arkansas State def. #5 South Alabama
  • #2 Texas State def. #3 Louisiana
  • #1 Coastal Carolina def. #4 Coastal Carolina

That is, until the championship game. Texas State rattled Coastal Carolina last time, and the Bobcats, having come through the West Division, have had to maintain focus throughout the season. We like the Bobcats to take Coastal Carolina 3-1 in the championship game to earn their first tournament title, and NCAA Championship appearance, since 2013.

The Sun Belt will be just a one-bid conference, so winning the tournament is everything for teams with NCAA tournament hopes.


Courtesy: Sun Belt Conference


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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