At OV Regionals in 2012, Ohio State gave up an average of 3.25 points a game on their way to the win. In 2011, only once did a team even break double digits, when Penn State scored 10 in the Final. Basically, since the Ohio Valley became its own Region, Ohio State Fever has been its unquestioned ruler. The story of this season has a setting no different as we head into Ohio Valley Regionals in Sherrodsville, OH. In fact, it is fair to say this is the strongest Fever has ever been. They certainly are a favorite to take the Region’s lone bid near their hometown, and are likely to run with it.
For the body of the season, there was only considered one team with the chance to challenge the Columbus women. Pittsburgh Danger has been a team on the verge, earning the 2 seed at last year’s Regionals, and despite a poor pool play showing, managed to make it all the way back to the Final. However, most pundits would probably have pegged them for a better chance of earning a second bid than winning Regionals. An up and down season kept them from doing that and an uneven Conference Champies performance sets them behind the #2 seed, Penn.
- Ohio State (A1)
- Pennsylvania (B1)
- Pittsburgh (B2)
- Carnegie-Melon (A2)
- Penn State (A3)
- Case Western (B3)
- Ohio (B4)
- Edinboro (A4)
- West Virginia (A5)
Pool A: OSU, CMU, PSU, Edinboro, WVU
Pool B: Penn, Pitt, Case, Ohio
Only the 5th team from Pool A is eliminated from contention.
#1 seed Ohio State Fever has had a strong season so far and there is no evidence they will be slowing down. They have only lost games to teams in the hunt for bids to the College Championships, have never been blown out (largest margin of defeat: 5 in a loss to Virginia), and have a bevy of marquee wins. They’ve seen little in region competition, but trounced everyone – including Pitt a couple of times – in the fall season and gave up only seven points in their four games at Conferences. Earlier in the season, with star cutter Cassie Swafford recovering from injury, others had to step up downfield and on defense, such as transfer Jenny Perry, Lauren Franke, and freshman phenom Nina Finley. With star handler and Skyd Five Callahan selection Paige “Diddy” Soper nursing a few injuries, other handlers – Caitlin Harley and Janine Walker, primarily – were asked to carry a heavier load. The result, with Swafford and Soper both ready to go – is a team with starpower and depth. They’re also well rounded and focused. For Fever, anything less than domination is not an option.
#4 seed Carnegie-Mellon Money Melons are coming into this weekend with some momentum. They upset Pittsburgh, 11-5, at Conferences, a huge boost of confidence. It was their first major success since an undefeated win of Steakfest, but they’ve maintained steady wins since that point in their season. They don’t need to beat Ohio State Saturday, but they’ll want to stay on top of their game come their end of day matchup with…
#5 seed Penn State Isis was considered one of the teams to watch in the Region early in the year. They beat Virginia in the Fall season, took a three point loss to them early in the Spring, and notched wins over Penn and JMU. On the flip side, Isis has been blown out by Pitt three times, blown out by Penn, and lost games to Case Western and Edinboro. Captains Chelsea Allen and Regina Wilkinson will look to correct these consistency issues – and to lead by example – in Sherrodsville.
#8 seed Edinboro has had a tough season, but has to feel like they can run with anybody after their Champies victory over Penn State. They did what they needed to to qualify for Regionals, but it’ll be a challenge to make an impact on any of the Region’s top talent.
The final team is #9 seed West Virginia WHUT. They come in with a 1-1 record against Edinboro and a solid showing vs. Carnegie-Mellon, both from Conferences. If they can push a higher seed or top Edinboro, it has to be considered a successful weekend for WHUT.
#2 seed Penn Venus earned their high seed with an undefeated performance at Pennsylvania Conferences, only really pushed in a double game point win over Pittsburgh. They add that to a resume that includes a win over NYU and an 8-4 record since Winta Binta Vinta Fest. Alanna Tievesky (Ambiguously Grey), Jackie Wang (7 Express), and Bernadette Hsu (a team captain) provide a lot of the firepower, experience, and leadership Venus will be relying on if they want to make noise in Ohio.
It is a rebound weekend for #3 seed Pittsburgh Danger. This team isn’t unaccustomed to responding to adverse performances. Their struggles at QCTU didn’t stop them from putting on a strong Easterns. I don’t think anybody will look past them; this is still a team with two wins over UNC-Wilmington & Michigan, and wins over Northwestern, Florida, and Texas. They played to within two points versus Ohio State at QCTU as well. Captain Sydney Huerbin sets the tone for this team with her defensive intensity, buoyed by fellow Captain Katelyn Loughery, former Flywheel leader Kelsey DeLave, and Lucy Bender. If Coach Jake Christian can help them find the discipline their performance has lacked, there isn’t a team better equipped to upset Fever.
#6 seed Case Western Lady Gobies are still a team to watch from their low seed. Mostly, they don’t have a lot of results, but they already have victories over Penn State and JMU to their name. Conversely, they’ve also lost to both of those same teams. They had no issues at Conferences, save getting run over by OSU, so it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up. Libby Lehman is likely to lead them to break seed.
#9 seed Ohio Stacked is still a growing program, but this season has been a little bit of a step back from their success last season. This tournament, however, is the one that matters, so success here is what will be remembered.
Pool A: Ohio State, Penn State, Carnegie-Mellon, Edinboro, West Virginia
Pool B: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Case Western, Ohio
Ohio State over Ohio
Penn over Carnegie-Mellon
Case Western over Penn State
Pittsburgh over Edinboro
Ohio State over Penn
Pittsburgh over Case Western
Ohio State over Pittsburgh
It is hard to see anyone giving Fever a tough game, let alone beating them. Their dominance at last year’s Regionals shows that, when it comes to the Ohio Valley, they show no mercy. Pittsburgh’s talent level and experience against high level competition should prepare them for the tight games they’ll need to win to make the Final.