Volleyball season is already coming down the final stretch, and with some Southland Conference teams having as little as five games remaining, the Southland Conference tournament is on every team’s mind. The top eight teams in the conference will make the conference tournament, and the race for those eight spots is very tight at the moment. The separation between the fourth place team in the conference, Sam Houston State, and the eighth place team in the conference, Southeastern Louisiana is a game and a half.
The Texas A&M Corpus-Christi Islanders are number one in the conference with a perfect 10-0 conference record. The Islanders have been dominant in conference play this season, dropping only four sets in 10 conference games, and have been taken to five sets only once. The Islanders were the overwhelming favorites to win the conference in the preseason, and so far they have done nothing to change that.
After the Islanders, Stephen F. Austin, Houston Baptist, and Abilene Christian round out the top four. However, ACU is not eligible for the conference tournament this season, so that means Sam Houston, who is fifth, would move up to the fourth spot. Incarnate Word is currently seventh in the conference, but is also not eligible to compete in the tournament. After fourth place SHSU, there are five teams within two games of each other battling for the last four spots, and for seeding.
Of the teams eligible for the conference tournament, nobody besides TAMUCC currently holds more than a two game winning streak. There is a lot of parity in the conference, and it shows in the standings. So many teams are close in the standings, and when they play, it’s obvious on the court how evenly matched these SLC teams are. The conference tournament could hold a few surprises considering how evenly matched the competition is.
First team all-conference, and player of the year awards are also up for grabs. Lamar’s senior outside hitter Chelsea Grant looks to be one of the top contenders for player of the year, as she leads the conference in both kills and kills per set in conference play.
TAMUCC’s junior outside hitter Brittany Gilpin should also be in consideration for player of the year since she has been the best player for the conference’s best team.
SHSU senior setter Michelle Griffith is currently leading the conference in assists per set, and if she continues at this pace for the remainder of the season, she would have a very good chance at being named first team all-conference.
The Islanders are the favorites to win the conference tournament, and with good reason. Even though they are undefeated they have shown vulnerabilities at times this season. It would take a well-rounded game by one of the conference’s top teams to beat them, but in sports anything is possible.