I’ve been following the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team closely, including the consecutive match winning streak – 84 and counting, aiming for UNC soccer’s 92 (I was taken in by the media on the alleged record of 88 by the UCLA men, thankfully corrected by UncleLar), and the regular season set/game winning streak of 141, snapped in Rec Hall by Iowa. PSU has now dropped a total of four sets (20-0 in matches, and 60-4 in sets), and there’s been alot of attention in the volleyball world (or at least ESPN and the Big Ten Network) about what that means, and how good Penn State really is this year.
Which made me curious about how many sets women’s volleyball Final Four teams have dropped over the years. So I did some research for all the WVB Final Four teams from 1998 to 2008 (I found it tough to get records for some of those teams and some of those years, and actually had to do complex math, like addition, so there may well be errors even though I tried my best. Corrections welcomed).
What I learned? Only three NCAA Champions (in this admittedly limited sample) have dropped fewer than 10 sets in their Championship season (Penn State with a 114-2 record in 2008, Long Beach State at 108-8 in 1998, and USC at 105-8 in 2003). The most lost sets by a Final Four team? A tie between Minnesota in 2003 (85-49) and Tennessee in 2005 (70-49).
The 2009 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team may end up losing more sets, or matches, and may not win the 2009 National Championship (I happen to believe they have a very good shot, but so do teams like Texas and Washington and Hawaii), but lost sets – at least 10 or fewer lost sets – doesn’t spell doom.
Here’s a link to the entire chart http://www.dignittanyvolleyball.com/?p=4007.