The following was written by Zachary Parise of the University of Kentucky
Just as I said in my last article, this semester is looking to be one of the best in recent NCDA history. We are only a month away from the biggest tournament of the year and this season has already seen more matches, and more upsets than ever before. This weekend, Western Kentucky University hosts the very first King of the Hill tournament. WKU will play host to Akron University, North Georgia University, and the University of Kentucky. Along with the standard three matches for each, UK and WKU will be playing for the Kentucky state cup for the first time since 2011. Let’s take a look at each team and what to expect.
Akron is coming into Bowling Green after finishing 1-2 at the ODC. Unfortunately for the Zips, they will be shorthanded for this tournament. This year has not been exactly what this young team has been looking for, but anything can happen in this last month of the season. I’m expecting Akron to walk into WKU hungry and looking to steal away a win or two this weekend. This tournament will be a great warmup for their home tournament at the end of March. Look for Adam Pfeifer and Colby Briceland to make some big plays if this team wants to make some noise against higher ranked opponents.
Akron will start their day against WKU then face UNG and end with UK. Based off of the Gonzalez ranking system, Akron will be underdogs in each of their matches. I do believe the UNG vs Akron match could be great. UNG also will not have a full roster on Saturday, making this game a must win for the Zips.
This team is extremely unfamiliar to me and I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this young squad play. The Nighthawk’s will be traveling for the first time in their short history outside of the state of Georgia. This team made some noise beating Georgia Southern 9-0 and 8-0 in their inducting matches. Following this, UNG then played three good games against WKU, VCU, and again GSU in their very first home tournament. Kyle Dattlebaum has been drawing attention of teams all year with the early successes of this young UNG team. Look for him and his team to come prepared and ready to face some new opponents.
UNG will play UK, Akron, and then WKU at this tournament. Being ranked at 14, they are sitting right in the middle of the pack of the league. They will be underdogs in their matches against UK and WKU, but these new guys will have the “advantage” against the Akron Zips. Just like what I said with Akron, I believe the UNG vs Akron match will be one of the most exciting matches of the day. With the matches being livestreamed, this is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
This team started off the season 7-1, looking like one of the hotter teams outside of the Michigan region. Unfortunately, something changed this past semester and it has not looked that good for the Hilltoppers. Don’t get me wrong, this is a team that I see turning some heads come Nationals next month. Nick Johnson, Josh Wynn, and Dominique Warfield still have a month to kick this team into shape. There is a lot of upside to WKU that teams haven’t had the chance to see. With this being a home tournament, they will be a tough match throughout the entire day. Not only that, but the Kentucky Cup will be up for grabs between the two in state rivals for the first time in half a decade. This is a piece of hardware that WKU doesn’t want to give up.
The WKU-UK matchup should be the best match of the day. This will be their fourth match up between these two clubs (UK leads 2-1) this season. This rivalry has been enjoyable all season and I don’t expect anything different this Saturday. The game means just a little bit more as the winner will take home the Kentucky Dodgeball Cup. WKU will have a full team this weekend, along with being favorites against UNG and Akron, this tournament could be just the start for WKU to get back on track.
What a season for the UK Wildcats. For the first time in three years, the Wildcats will enter nationals with an above .500 record. This team has played quality dodgeball all year, but no team goes unscathed all year long. UK is coming off a tough OT loss to VCU that has the whole team wanting revenge. I would go as far as saying this team’s chemistry might be the best of any in the league, and that is a dangerous thing for their competition. Along with their playmakers, UK’s communication will help this team continue their incredible season through Saturday and into nationals. Colin Hiatt, Brandon Engelman, and Ricardo Menchaca have truly whipped this team into contenders.
In the Gonzalez ranking system, this team will have a large advantage over every other team in attendance. The Cats schedule for the day will be UNG, WKU, and then Akron. Just as it has been all year, expect the UK vs WKU match to be back and forth all game long with the potential for overtime. UK is looking to build momentum to take into Nationals next month, and after this weekend it would be tough to not see them have just that.