On Feb. 14th, Michigan State University will host the annual Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC). This event has historically been the toughest regular season tournament of the year. The 2015 version of the MDC has the makings of an absolute classic tournament with #1 Grand Valley State, #2 Central Michigan, #3 Michigan State, and #11 Saginaw Valley State all set to compete. I don’t remember a year where the top four Michigan region schools were as close competitively as they are this year.
GVSU is currently undefeated, but the Lakers have had to survive a number of close calls this year, with each of the Michigan teams having at least one game where they almost pulled the upset. GVSU has only won the MDC once in the last three years, despite having two national titles in that same time period.
Central Michigan enters the tournament as the #2 team in the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA), and the Chippewas are arguably the most improved team in Michigan. To put it simply, this team seems on the verge of greatness. The MDC is one of the biggest stages in college dodgeball, so it will be a huge test for this talented group from Mt. Pleasant.
Michigan State is currently ranked #3 in the nation. The Spartans will look to use their home field advantage to help in their effort to win the elusive Michigan Dodgeball Cup.
Saginaw Valley State is the lowest ranked team attending this even at #11 in the nation. The Cardinals have not had the luxury of playing as many games as their in-state opponents so far this year, so it should be interesting to see if that has an effect on their play. SVSU won the MDC last season by going 4-0 at this event.
Here is a more in-depth preview of each of the four teams from the Michigan region as they prepare for one of the most heated tournaments of the NCDA’s regular season:
Grand Valley State currently sits at 24-0 on the season and ranked #1 in the nation. On top of that, the Lakers are currently on a 36-game winning streak which dates back to last year’s MDC when they fell to rival SVSU by a score of 3-2. With just six more victories, Grand Valley will overtake the previous NCDA record for longest win streak which was achieved by GVSU from 2006-2010. Despite those staggering numbers, Grand Valley is still in jeopardy of dropping any of their three matchups due to the tough in-state competition.
GVSU will benefit from the likely return of Captain Kevin Bailey from a shoulder injury. The Lakers were 4-0 in his absence. Assistant Captains Dylan Fettig and Aaron Terenzi will also be looked upon to perform well if GVSU hopes to keep their untarnished record alive.
Beyond the captains, Grand Valley has seen strong performances from Jalen Gardner, Austin Morley, and Trevor Nordberg. Nordberg was playing the best dodgeball of his career at their last tournament: the Chicago Dodgeball Open, when he almost single-handedly won the point that broke the 1-1 tie in their match against CMU.
One aspect of the GVSU team that has stood out this year is their transition offense. The Lakers have the ability to play very fast, and take advantage of teams with their transition game. Overall, GVSU is a balanced team in terms of catching and throwing strength, which is another reason why they are such a difficult team to match up with, and the likely favorites to win this year’s Michigan Dodgeball Cup.
Central Michigan, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is an extremely improved team from a year ago. I am excited to see them surprise some teams from other regions later this season at the CMU Showdown and of course at Nationals, but for now they are preparing for the MDC, with three opponents familiar with them.
Much like CMU teams of the past, these guys excel at catching. Top to bottom, their roster is filled with players who are dangerous to throw at because of how well they are able to catch. What makes this group different is that they are not limited to just being a good catching team. This squad is filled with athletes who are more than capable throwing a dodgeball.
Look for captains Wes Peters and Brett Hadwin to lead this team. Michael Riley, the team’s top thrower, will be a huge asset to the team after missing last semester. Assistant Captain Zach Bachner has been a consistent performer for CMU all season. Same goes for two of the best catchers for the Chippewas: Jacob Leski and Scott LaValley the other assistant captain. Besides this group of players, Shane Willette, Mike Heller, and Ian Ryan are three of the most improved players on this team from a year ago. I expect all of the previously mentioned performers to play an important role for Central.
This is unquestionably the deepest CMU team since the 2011-12 season. CMU is yet to get over the hump, and prove that they are the best team in Michigan. The MDC will provide Central Michigan a prime opportunity to do just that.
Michigan State enters the MDC with a pedestrian 12-11 record. I advise you not to look into that record too deeply, because the Spartans are without question one of the best teams in the NCDA this season. I doubt there has ever been a team that suffered as many close losses in the first half of the season as MSU did during the fall.
The Spartans have a talented group this year. In my opinion, this is the best MSU team in the history of their program. The Spartans are led by Captain Colin O’Brien, and Assistant Captain Andy Lieblich, two of the best catchers in the NCDA. Assistant Captain Alex Zajac has also been a consistent performer for MSU, and his arm will be counted on quite a bit if MSU has any plans of keeping the trophy in East Lansing this year.
Don’t forget MSU also has Noe Galaviz, who will undoubtedly be one of the best players in the building on Feb 14th. Noe is an extremely aggressive player, and a huge asset to MSU’s offensive game. I also expect Kosta Vergos to have a good tournament for MSU. He has not received the credit he deserves in the past, but is certainly an impact player for the Spartans.
Michigan State’s season has been filled with missed opportunities to get that huge victory. The Spartans are currently on a losing streak in their series’ with each of the other three Michigan schools, so it will be fascinating to see if they can get revenge at the MDC. MSU is more than capable of winning all of their games. We will have to wait until next Saturday to find out if they can get the job done in the biggest NCDA tournament of the year to this point.
SVSU is a confusing team for many, especially this season. Saginaw has made a habit of starting the season slow, but finishing strong. This season, SVSU has not had the chance to play in as many matches as GVSU, MSU, and CMU. While the Cardinals may not be favored to win this MDC, it won’t matter at all if history is any indication.
Saginaw is 9-1 at the MDC over the last three years. Oh, by the way, that one loss was an OT thriller against GVSU that could have gone either way. The point is, Saginaw has always brought their A-game to the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, and I expect the same to happen this year.
Max Siler will once again be a leader for SVSU at the MDC. I also expect great performances from Blake Grivetti, and Cody Putnam, two of their best transition players. Also look for Andrew Miller and Kyle Foster, two players I mentioned in my “All-Underrated Team”, to have a big impact for the Cardinals. While SVSU may have lost some key players from a year ago, and have not made as much noise as other Michigan teams so far this year, I still won’t count them out. SVSU has made a habit of playing very well at the MDC; don’t be surprised if this year is no different.
A few interesting situations surrounding this tournament:
A team from Michigan has won the National Championship for eight straight seasons. That means that this will be the 8th consecutive MDC featuring a defending champion team. The interesting thing is that the NCDA champ from the previous season has actually failed to win the MDC every year since 2011!
There has not been a repeat champion since Grand Valley State won four straight from 2006-2009.
GVSU will be attempting to inch closer to the NCDA’s all-time record for longest winning streak. The Lakers currently sit at 36 games, just five wins off from the record of 41, set by GVSU from 2006-2010.
Michigan State has not won the MDC since 2005, when only a single match was played (an 8-3 win over Delta College). This may be the best all-around team that MSU has ever had, so no time is better than now for the Spartans to take home the hardware.
While SVSU is currently not receiving a whole lot of hype, they have had a tendency to come on strong in the second half of the season, so it would not be smart to count them out. Keep in mind that the Cardinals have won two of the last three Michigan Dodgeball Cups.
This won’t be the last time these four teams clash in the regular season. In March, Central Michigan will host the “CMU Showdown” which will feature these four teams in addition to James Madison. That should be a fantastic tournament, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
It’s safe to say that this will be one of the best tournaments all year. I’d go as far as to say that the anticipation leading up to an MDC has never been at the levels of what we are seeing this year. I doubt there will be any blowouts at all at the 2015 MDC, which speaks to the balanced competition across the board in the state. If you are interested in watching some exciting dodgeball, look no further than the 2015 Michigan Dodgeball Cup. It is going to be one for the ages!
*Look for additional MDC preview articles on Tuesday and Wednesday from content writers Jacob Leski and Colin O’Brien.
|2006||Grand Valley State|
|2007||Grand Valley State|
|2008||Grand Valley State|
|2009||Grand Valley State|
|2011||Grand Valley State|
|2012||Saginaw Valley State|
|2013||Grand Valley State|
|2014||Saginaw Valley State|