This recap and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate.
Rice Torque ended the weekend undefeated at the first edition of women’s D-III Warmup in Riverside, CA. They dominated matchups all weekend, culminating in a 13-7 win in the finals against the Claremont Greenshirts. Here’s a review of the weekend’s action and some speculation about the potential significance of Torque’s transition to D-III on the division as a whole.
Top Three Teams
Rice relied heavily on a small core of reliable and aggressive players for both offensive and defensive success. Over the course of the tournament, Monica Matsumoto, Ericka Danckers, and Nichole Kwee were involved in assisting or scoring nearly all of Torque’s 101 points. On the defensive side, Danckers and Kwee both racked up hand blocks like it was going out of style – Danckers had at least three during the final. Meanwhile, Matsumoto consistently dominated in the handler position, with break throws and well-placed hucks that often created opportunities when Torque’s offense stagnated.
Rice made a splash this weekend not only with their strong performance on the field, but also with the news that they’ll be going D-III in the Championship Series for the first time. This strategic decision has the potential to shake up the South Central region in a major way–and could strip Truman State TSUnami of their long-standing bid to the Championships.
Carleton Eclipse, ranked #2 in Skyd’s preseason rankings, struggled against both Claremont and Rice in Riverside this weekend. Eclipse had huge margins of victory against the less-established programs, but couldn’t bring the same dominance or huck game mentality to their matchups against their major competitors. Fatigue could have been a factor, as was fairly evident in their first confrontation with Rice on Saturday. However, conditioning is a quick fix, so don’t count Eclipse out as a contender at Nationals in May.
Though the final ended 13 – 7 for Torque, Claremont played better against Rice in the finals than the score indicates. There were multiple turns per point, but Greenshirt players got stalled out frequently trying to find the right option, which made it hard for the team to regularly convert on offense. If Claremont can become more confident with making leading throws to small spaces, placing more trust in their receivers, this matchup may look very different down the road.
Hammer time. Only one incomplete hammer was witnessed this weekend, and this throw played a crucial role in creating scoring opportunities during several games. Throughout the tournament, teams turned to the hammer in moments of need, used most notably by Claremont’s Arvanitis, sophomore Marianna “Banxx” Heckendorn and Torque’s Matsumoto. D-III ladies: got a hammer? Dust it off, bring it to your next tournament, and work out the kinks. As we saw here, it could be a game-changer.
Shredding the zone. Despite the lack of wind, a lot of teams played zone during Warmup. However, given the beautiful conditions of the tournament, these defensive looks were often ineffective. This was especially the case because most teams chose to employ a four-man cup, sacrificing the short deep and leaving the middle of the field vulnerable to blades and hammers. No team played zone for more than a couple points, and its employment appears to have largely served an educational role for new players still learning the technique.
Boost it. Deep looks were favored by any team with the throws, and for good reason. With the exception of Claremont’s impressive pressure on defense, few teams seemed to know how to reliably challenge the longs on defense – especially in the face of dominant receivers like Lucinda Robinson of Carleton and Rice captain Ericka Danckers.
Spin MVP Award
Our MVP of the tournament was Claremont’s Tasha “Lefty” Arvanitis. Returning from an injury that sidelined her in 2013, Lefty dominated her matchups throughout the weekend, most notably against Rice captain Matsumoto. On defense, she smothered attempts by handlers to get open on dump cuts, and downfield she frequently won matchups in the air against taller receivers with her sheer athletic ability and a stellar box-out. On offense, many of the Greenshirts’ points seemed to flow through her quick resets and strikes upline. Congratulations Lefty!
Overall, we witnessed an impressive weekend of play from all teams participating in the first women’s D-III Warmup. Congratulations to Torque on their victory, and many thanks to Zack Purdy and all the Claremont players who helped host the tournament! We can’t wait to see what this D-III season holds.
Article by Margaret Rosano and Zoe Bluffstone. Feature photo by Margaret Rosano.