WAR VI Preview

As we roll into what is often the largest inter-region tournament before Nationals, each of the 11 teams in attendance have something big to play for. With squads coming from as far as Lincoln, Nebraska to just right down the road in Kent or Cleveland, this event will surely not disappoint. Lets start with a team by team breakdown of what we should be seeing come Saturday and some WAR history starting with the newly #1 ranked team in the country.

#1 Cincinnati Bearcats (UC)

All Time WAR Record: 4-2

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: All new opponents

Fun Fact: UC has only played one game at WAR with a score differential less than 3 (4-1 record in those games)

The Bearcats are fresh off a dominant Ohio Dodgeball Cup (ODC) win which included a 7-0 win over #7 Akron and a 3-2 win in the finals over #5 Ohio State. You could argue last weekend was the best showing for the Bearcats this whole season. The blend of athleticism, throw power, and experience for this group is something that is hard to come by in this league. However, Cincinnati will face some strong competition at WAR and will need to be on point if they are to keep their top spot in the NCDA standings. They will face three top 10 teams in Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State this weekend. It is really difficult to pick which of these matchups is the most anticipated. Nebraska is a strong team with numerous veterans from their impressive nationals showing, but also have not played a team currently in the top 10 this year. Meanwhile, Ohio State is fresh off an ODC finals loss they’ll want revenge for. On top of that, a Penn State squad, which defeated perennial contenders in JMU and GVSU at their last tournament, will be on looking for the opportunity to cement themselves in the title contender conversation. It is safe to say that the Bearcats will have their work cut out for them come Saturday.

#5 Ohio State Buckeyes (OSU)

All Time WAR Record: 3-3

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: Miami (0-1), UC and UNL are new opponents

Fun Fact: OSU’s 3-3 record is split up into an 0-3 performance at WAR III and a 3-0 performance at WAR V

Coming off a 3-2 Ohio Dodgeball Cup final loss to UC, this deep and well balanced group will look to bounce back at WAR. Their 3 matches on the day are Miami (OH), UC, and UNL. No disrespect to the RedHawks or Cornhuskers, but the Buckeyes main focus will likely be on avenging their ODC defeat to UC and proving they are the top squad in the Ohio region. However, Miami and UNL are both strong teams which can get OSU into some trouble if they are not careful. As we saw at 2022 Nationals in UNL’s overtime loss to the Buckeyes, they are not a team to be overlooked in the slightest. Miami is also an up and coming squad which improves at each tournament. Captains Ryan Ginsberg and Ethan Lehmkuhl will need to have OSU in top shape if they are to maintain their top 5 spot following Saturday.

#6 Penn State Nittany Lions (PSU)

All Time WAR Record: 4-5

H2H vs Opponents: All new opponents

Fun Fact: PSU has a record of 1-5 vs Ohio region, 3-0 against teams outside the Ohio region

Penn State is a team that you never quite know what to expect. Although they have been stellar outside of one tournament this season, there are still numerous doubters around the league. Given that the sole poor showing of the came at their last trip to Akron in November for Pink Out, we really do not know what to expect. PSU showed the ability to defeat any team at their most recent tournament with wins over JMU and GVSU at JMU’s annual Beast. With that being said, the question remains, can they be trusted to be a true title contender this season? Given that they get a matchup with a solid UWP squad and a red hot #1 UC team which defeated them 4-1 last semester, what PSU does on Saturday will go a long way in determining what their ceiling is.

#7 Akron Zips

All Time WAR Record: 13-10

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: UWP (2-0), other 3 teams are new opponents

Fun Fact: Akron had a 7 game winning streak between WAR III and WAR V, but ended WAR V with a 3 game losing streak.

The Zips have been a mixed bag this season and last weekend at ODC was no different. They dominated Bowling Green State and defeated top 5 Ohio, but paired that with a 7-0 loss to UC. However, Akron are the hosts and historically, play quite well at home. Evidence of this can be seen by their performance at Pink Out in November where they went 4-0 with huge wins over Penn State and JMU. This Saturday, the Zips play 4 games vs UK, UNL, UWP, and UMD. While they will be looking to go 4-0, they have not faced any of these teams except UWP this season. Akron excels at taking advantage of mistakes from other teams, though this may prove more difficult against squads they know less about. Look out for strong play from seniors PJ Antalek, Matt Young, and Clay Egleston in what the Zips hope will be the tournament that boosts them into the top 5 when the next standings are released.

#9 Nebraska Cornhuskers (UNL)

All Time WAR Record: First time attending WAR

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: All new opponents

Fun Fact: UNL’s 13 hour drive is the longest any team has made to attend WAR

UNL is somewhat of an unknown around most of the league. No current top 10 team has faced the Cornhuskers at all this season. Last year, UNL was one of the main stories of 2022 Nationals by establishing themselves as a legit top 10 team. Led by 2022 All-American Colby Chohrach, the Huskers returned almost their entire roster from last season are looking to put themselves amongst the NCDA elite. Despite a 13-14 hour drive, I trust that they’ll be ready for this tough schedule of UC, Akron, and OSU on Saturday. Playing three top seven teams is no joke for one tournament. Given the distance UNL must travel to play most of the league, they need to make the most of the opportunity to improve their seeding come Nationals. Although a 3-0 outing would be the ideal result, even a 2-1 in any combination would show the league that the Huskers are the real deal and ready for a serious run in April.

#11 Wisconsin Platteville Pioneers (UWP)

All Time WAR Record: 1-5

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: Akron (0-2), PSU and Kent are new opponents

Fun Fact: Following Saturday, UWP will have played Akron in all 3 trips to WAR (will also be UWP’s first time with a 12 person roster)

UWP is another team from the Central region, although they have certainly played many more teams from around the league compared to their rivals UNL. The Pioneers are an experienced team and will look to find their way back into the top 10 after a somewhat poor showing at the Grand Valley Gauntlet. With games against PSU, Kent, and Akron, UWP could make some noise at WAR. This may be their last opportunity to play before Nationals and they will need to make the most of it if they are to rebound from a slow start to the semester.

#13 Maryland Terrapins (UMD)

All Time WAR Record: First time attending WAR

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: All new opponents

Fun Fact: Maybe not so fun if you’re an east coast fan, but WAR V was the first time an east coast team did not win a game at WAR.

The Terps are ready to go for what is their first pre-Nationals out of region tournament in at least 6 years. Despite nursing some injuries and absences of some top players, UMD is ready to show the rest of the league what they can do. The opportunity to play teams outside the East Coast could be a huge step forward for this club. With a schedule of Miami, CSU, and Akron, Maryland is looking for a chance to win all three on the slate. UMD has been steadily progressing as a team this year and has top 10 aspirations. 2 or 3 wins at WAR would set the Terps up in a great position rolling into Nationals.

#15 Miami (OH) RedHawks

All Time WAR Record: 7-5

H2H vs Opponents: OSU (1-0), UMD and UK are new opponents

Fun Fact: Back at WAR IV, Miami put together an impressive performance, going 3-0 and outscoring opponents 17-1. The 16 point differential is the best by any team in one tournament at WAR.

Miami is truly a somewhat surprise team this season. Coming off a big post-COVID rebuild, the RedHawks are showing themselves to be a quality team this season. While they may not be contending with the league’s elite yet, they are consistently showing improvement. Playing OSU, UMD, and UK at WAR, Miami will be looking for at at least two wins to improve their resume as we get into crunch time for this season.

#17 Kent State Golden Flashes

All Time WAR Record: 5-7

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: CSU (0-1), UWP and UK are new opponents

Fun Fact: Back at the first ever WAR, Kent went 3-0 with only 1 point surrendered.

Coming off barely playing at all last season, Kent is slowly getting back to the team they were pre-COVID. They’ve gotten much better from where they were at the start of the year and their club numbers are only growing. While Kent showed recently that they can top some of lower ranked teams in the NCDA, a schedule of UWP, UK, and CSU will provide ample opportunity to compete with higher ranked squads as well as tally some wins in the process.

#19 Cleveland State Vikings (CSU)

All Time WAR Record: 5-12

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: Kent (1-0), PSU and UMD are new opponents

Fun Fact: CSU is tied with Ohio for most games played at WAR outside of Akron with 17 games played

Similar to Kent, CSU is a rebuilding team. While the addition of multi-time Women’s All-American Kathryn Mays certainly helps, the Vikings are looking for that spark still. Given a schedule of PSU, UMD, and Kent, they will be hoping for at least 1 win, but don’t count them out from competing hard even if the results aren’t in their favor.

#25 Kentucky Wildcats (UK)

All Time WAR Record: 2-1

H2H vs Scheduled Opponents: All new opponents

Fun Fact: UK is the only team from the Central/Southern region to have multiple wins at WAR.

Although UK may not be ranked highly at the moment, the Wildcats haven’t really had the opportunity to play vs some of the other teams lower in the standings. A somewhat tough slate of Akron, Miami, and Kent lays ahead for them. Even if they do not pick up their first win of the season at WAR, the experience gained is much more meaningful for this young team.

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