While football is the fall sport that has grabbed most of our attention, another title contender on campus also suffered a cancellation of their fall season. The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team were the national runners up last year and returned a potent lineup that was poised to return to the Final Four. Having their season cancelled/postponed is brutal.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield posted a statement on Twitter on Tuesday night with the caption “thoughts on today’s news.” Sheffield says that he met and talked to the team on Tuesday afternoon once the news had been announced. The last two sentences of his statement stand out to me about what this team stands for: “Afterwards, the team (even though I canceled practice), talked me into playing 6 v 6. For the next 2+ hours I’ve never seen a practice with more competitive fire, joy and friendly banter.”
Thoughts on today’s news: pic.twitter.com/CUGBREY6D3— Kelly Sheffield (@KellyPSheffield) August 12, 2020
It really sucks that they won’t get to play a full fall season and attempt to win the one last match they couldn’t last year and bring the program its first ever national title. However, it would appear that the B1G volleyball coaches had been preparing for this (likely) outcome of fall sports being postponed because they already have a dang schedule proposal into the B1G offices for spring.
Nebraska head coach John Cook is leading the charge and doing a fine job of it, if I may editorialize for a moment. Here is an excerpt from the article on the Lincoln Journal Star’s website:
The Big Ten volleyball coaches have held online meetings for many months, and at some point Cook said the group needed to start thinking about what a spring season could look like.
“There were so many unknowns, and we were in a meeting and I finally said, ‘Hey, we got to be ready to go in the spring if all of this shuts down,’ and here we are,” Cook said. “We thought this would happen way earlier in the summer, so that’s why we started on it. Now we got six months to figure it all out, and see what happens with COVID and see what happens with students coming back to school. So we’ve got time to figure it out.”
Minnesota’s (who also made the Final Four last year) head coach Hugh McCutcheon was another B1G representative that offered up some hope for a spring season when asked on Tuesday:
McCutcheon believes a spring schedule would have “a pretty similar rhythm.’’ He envisions playing nonconference matches against regional opponents, perhaps starting in January, and he speculated the NCAA tournament could be held in May, maybe alongside the men’s NCAA championship that is always held in the spring. In the meantime, he and his team will have to be patient.
With the Pac-12 also announcing on Tuesday that they’d be canceling fall sports, the volleyball world took a major blow.
Since 2000, the @bigten & @pac12 have won 19 of 20 @NCAAVolleyball championships. In the last 30 years, the two conferences have won 27.— Katie George (@Katie_George05) August 12, 2020
College football dominates headlines because it generates so much revenue & rightfully so but college volleyball took a big hit today too.
It would be exciting if the coaches were able to find a schedule that worked for everyone so that there could be as close to normal a season as possible.