Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Jordan Buscarini
The final NJCAA Division 1 women’s volleyball rankings were released Monday afternoon ahead of the upcoming conference tournaments this weekend.
The top 10 remained the same as Miami Dade College finished No. 1 after earning a perfect 22-0 record in the regular season. Odessa College came in at No. 2, followed by Snow College and USU Eastern. Iowa Western Community College rounded out the top five.
Finishing the regular season with a dominating 3-0 sweep over Colorado Northwestern Community College, the USU Eastern Eagles stayed put at No. 4. The ranking is the highest ending spot for the program in school history.
The Scenic West Athletic Conference was well represented in the final rankings of the season as Salt Lake Community College also earned a top 20 spot, finishing No. 14.
2021 brought the greatest individual regular season in school history for USU Eastern as the team ended with a 22-4 record overall and 8-2 in conference play. Playing an extremely difficult schedule throughout the season, USU Eastern also ended 10-4 against opponents ranked in the NJCAA Top 20.
The Eagles entered 2021 ranked No. 12 in the national poll, the same spot where they ended in 2019. Returning six sophomores from last year’s team, USU Eastern wasted little time climbing into the top five.
Early season wins over Odessa, Snow College, Iowa Western and No. 10 Seward helped USU Eastern climb to No. 4 in the third poll of the season. By the end of February, the Eagles had worked their way up to No. 2.
With an automatic bid to the National Championship Tournament on the line, USU Eastern will shift their focus to the SWAC Tournament this Friday and Saturday at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
Ranked No. 2 in conference, the Eagles will receive a first round bye and play either Salt Lake or Colorado Northwestern in the semifinals Friday at 4 p.m. A win would place them in the championship game Saturday against either Snow, Southern Idaho or Southern Nevada at 1 p.m.
USU Eastern and Snow College faced off three times this season, two of which counted toward conference play. The Eagles won two of those three matchups, winning at home and on a neutral court in Colorado.