One of the sports that gets almost no attention outside of California is volleyball, and specifically college volleyball. As of now, Illinois is the second best college volleyball state in the country, behind only the aforementioned state of California. They host two of the top 15 teams in the country, and the no.1 team as well. If you ever wanted to become a fan of volleyball, attending a college game in Illinois right now may be the best time.
The current no.1 team in the national rankings is Loyola (IL). Besides them, the rankings also include Lewis University, from Romeoville. Both of these teams are legitimate contenders in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, or MIVA.
Loyola currently has a 21-2 record, only losing one match to USC in their third match of the season. The team is on a 19-game winning streak and should continue that streak as they face three teams that are currently unranked in Lindenwood, Quincy and Ohio State. Loyola began the season by defeating pre-season no.1 UC Irvine, a win that helped catapult them to no.1, a spot that they haven’t relinquished. During that 19-game winning streak, Loyola defeated a nationally ranked team eight times, with two of those wins coming over a very solid Lewis side.
Lewis this season is 17-6 and is currently ranked no.11, a spot that they will undoubtedly rise from. This past week, the team defeated no.14 IPFW and no.12 Ball State, both come-from-behind five-set victories. With four unranked opponents left, it’s not impossible that the team could finish 21-6, an even rise as high as top seven in the country. The team is known for their Cinderella run to a national championship in 2003, a title which the school later vacated. While it wouldn’t be right to expect the same result again, a strong MIVA showing could bring them to the national championships, an honor which only four teams are given.
It could be that Illinois is represented at the national championships this year in men’s volleyball, and if either of these teams impress enough could leave their mark on the volleyball world.