Parity Bowl? UCLA Wins NCAA Title (B1G Gets no Kick from Champaign)

I get no kick from Champagne. Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all. So tell me why should it be true. That I get a kick out of you.

Parity Bowl?

Personally, we were hoping for a B1G Five-Peat, but UCLA was having none of it, as the Bruins downed Illinois, 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 26-24, 25-16), winning its first NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship since 1991.  UCLA was led by Tournament Most Outstanding Player 6-3 Jr. OH Rachael Kidder, who totaled 20 kills and eight digs, and 5-11 Sr. S Lauren Van Orden, who had 53 assists and a career-best 17 digs.  Congrats to the Bruins, and to Illinois for a terrific season.

Throughout the season, the volleyball blogisphere talk was all about “parity” — that the title was up for grabs, and that no one team stood out from the pack.  That may be true — six teams (we think) were ranked #1 in the AVCA poll during the season.  Then again, we suspect that Illinois, Florida State, Texas, and Penn State (all of whom the Bruins defeated on their way to the 2011 title) would agree that UCLA was very good when it counted most — in December.

That discussion aside, we can say that the 2011 Finalists were well down the chart for the period from 1998 through 2011 (which is conveniently located below) in terms of won-lost records in matches and sets compared to previous NCAA Finalists.  (To be clear, we’re not belittling the accomplishments of the 2011 Final Four teams.  We think the statistics reflect the parity that characterized the 2011 season, which we do not equate with mediocrity).

Back to the statistics, UCLA tied the 2004 Stanford championship team for most matches lost in a season (6) during that period.  Its 31 sets lost also was second from the bottom among the champions (the 2004 Stanford team lost 35).  Illinois tied 2004 Minnesota (33-5) and 2002 Stanford (32-5) for most matches lost by a second-place finisher during the period (its 43 sets lost were the most for any runner-up, followed by the 34 sets lost by the 2004 Minnesota team).  USC and Florida State fell somewhere in the middle of the pack among teams that lost in the Semi-finals.

Take a look and, check out the video of Errol Garner (born in Pittsburgh, PA!) at the end of this post playing “I Get a Kick Out of You.”  Not a swing blocker (he was 5′ 2″), but the man definitely could swing.

Oh – the chart is sortable, meaning that you can re-order the columns by clicking on the arrows at the top of any given column.

2011 Parity Bowl? Won Lost Records (Matches and Sets) of Final Four Teams from 1998 to 2011

YearTeamConferenceNCAA FinishWins (Matches)Losses (Matches)Wins (Sets)Losses (Sets)
2008Penn StateBig TenFirst3801142
2009Penn StateBig TenFirst3801148
1998Long Beach Big WestFirst3601088
2003USC Pac 10First3501058
2000NebraskaBig 12First34010213
1999Penn State Big TenFirst36111015
2006Nebraska Big 12First33110114
2005WashingtonPac 10First3219810
2002USC Pac 10First3119512
2007Penn State Big TenFirst34210418
2001Stanford Pac 10First33210121
2010Penn StateBig TenFirst32510320
2011UCLAPac 12First3069731
2004Stanford Pac 10First3069835
2001Long Beach Big WestSecond331NANA
1998Penn StateBig TenSecond3411046
2005Nebraska Big 12Second33210115
2009TexasBig 12Second2929113
2007Stanford Pac 10Second32310124
1999Stanford Pac 10Second3139518
2000WisconsinBig TenSecond334NANA
2008Stanford Pac 10Second3149523
2006Stanford Pac 10Second3049219
2010CaliforniaPac 10Second3049523
2004MinnesotaBig TenSecond33510534
2002Stanford Pac 10Second32510227
2011IllinoisBig 10Second32510043
1998Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3229916
2001Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3129414
1999PacificBig WestSemi-finals323NANA
2008Nebraska Big 12Semi-finals3139721
2000USCPac 10Semi-finals2938720
2011USCPac 12Semi-finals3059125
2004WashingtonPac 10Semi-finals2838923
2006UCLAPac 10Semi-finals33410424
1999Long Beach Big WestSemi-finals3149523
2008TexasBig 12Semi-finals2949424
2006WashingtonPac 10Semi-finals2959226
2007USC Pac 10Semi-finals2959135
2005Santa ClaraWCCSemi-finals2758830
2001ArizonaPac 10Semi-finals2557925
2010USCPac 10Semi Finals2969136
2010TexasBig 12Semi finals2768434
2004USC Pac 10Semi-finals2367632
2011Florida StateACCSemi-finals2879039
2007CaliforniaPac 10Semi-finals2688736
2009MinnesotaBig TenSemi-finals2898841
2003MinnesotaBig TenSemi-finals26118549

Erroll Garner Gets Kick From Champagne