NCAA Volleyball Winers In The Beginning: Hawaii or California
In the beginning, NCAA Volleyball Championships (Division 1) were won by teams from one of two places: Hawaii or California. On December 17th, 1988, almost thirty years ago to the day, the Texas Longhorns stepped in and demanded a change.
That day the Longhorns became the first team in history not from California or Hawaii to win the Women’s Volleyball Championships. The history they made that day took the winners circle and stretched it past the Rocky Mountains. This win became the great equalizer in Division 1 Volleyball. In the greater championship history, wins have now been almost evenly split between the west and south halves of the country. This has been made possible by the fact that, in the last fourteen years, the west has only won two of those championships.
The History of NCAA Volleyball Was Made
On that fateful night in 1988 the Longhorns showed that enough was enough. They wanted to bring home the trophy and they proved it. They bested Hawaii, the defending champs, in three sets, with scores of 15-4, 16-14, and 15-13. Not only did his team win the trophy. They were also the first team to completely sweep five straight sets with scores of 15-0. These impressive feats allow his team to live on in the annals of Women’s Volleyball.
When interviewed, the Longhorn coach remembered one specific instant that pushed the team to the top. “The Hawaii coach was listing teams who he thought could take the whole competition. He listed three teams, and he never mentioned us.” The Hawaii coach, Shoji, listed three schools: Illinois, UCLA, and his own team, Hawaii. This mistake would haunt him. The Longhorns never gave up, and rather than feeling discounted and discouraged, they pushed through to make history.
This year the semifinals and finals will be played in the same place that Texas made that historic victory all those decades ago: Minnesota. The Minnesota Division 1 team had their eye on competing and winning at home this year, but when it came down to it they couldn’t beat the Oregon Ducks, who defeated them in four hard fought sets. In their absence, however, the competition must go on.
The Upcoming Finals Will Determine Where This Championship Will Reside.
four teams going into semifinals, the Championship will go to Illinois, Nebraska, California, or Utah. As Stanford, BYU, Nebraska, and Illinois gear up to face off in the semifinals, the finals draw ever nearer. One of these teams will bring home the trophy, and someone on either side of the rockies will bring it home.
None of this year’s contenders will make the same mistake Shoji did. BYU, Stanford, and Illinois are all aware of the drive and dedication of defending champion Nebraska, but they won’t disregard each other. Everyone who has made it to the semifinals will fight as hard, if not harder, than they have so far. They won’t forget about Nebraska, who is the seventh seed. And Nebraska knows it must fight hard to top 1 Stanford or 4 BYU. And even then, only if they can defeat 3 Illinois this week. The games over this next week will be thrilling, challenging. And will occur on the hallowed ground where Texas made its powerful stand.