With the Cardinals’ season being underway, having already played 6 games and being ranked #4 in the country (and first in their region), it may be a good time to get a grasp on who they are.
We knew a few things going into the season. Firstly that NCDA MVP Spencer Jardine was back, but not in a leadership role. We also knew they lost a lot of leadership and talent from the National Championship team of a year ago. And we knew they were still going to load up their schedule with hard teams, and not be afraid to play anyone. Well, all three of those things have been proven right, as Jardine is definitely in form after missing the OSU Round Robin, the Cardinals are unfortunately missing their stars from last year, and they are still a tough team to beat.
Aside from the 5-0 blowout loss to rival MSU at the OSU Round Robin, the Cardinals played pretty well. They forced overtime on now #1 ranked Kent State and beat Ohio State, a team who has given them trouble in the past. Then at the BGSU Invite they were able to beat BGSU and Miami, and even take the first point from Grand Valley. With a nice 7 points to start the season after 6 games, it should be a good enough start for captain Max Siler and co.
The Cardinals definitely lack the depth early on this season that they had in previous years, but their top 5 or 6 can hang with a lot of schools. They have one of the best all-around players in Jardine, a great catcher in Torrie Peplinski, and some more power arms like Zach Phelps and Mike Soulliere. Add in the leadership of Max Siler and you’ve got a team that can compete with just about everybody.
Saginaw Valley next hosts arch-rival Grand Valley at the Battle of the Valleys on November 4th. Despite a great home court advantage for SVSU, GVSU has come out with two wins in their last three tries at Saginaw. However, SVSU’s win was the biggest in the rivalry since Nationals 2010, as it was an overtime victory to advance to the National Championship game. If the crowd can get going, and if the Cards can feed off their energy, then SVSU has a good chance of pulling off an upset. After the Battle of the Valleys, SVSU is off until the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, where they will travel to East Lansing to play the Spartans, Chippewas, and Lakers, and then they’re going to the BEAST at James Madison. With a tough schedule, it’s very likely that the Cardinals will get better prepared for playing at Nationals 2013. Playing a diverse group of schools they don’t normally get to face around Michigan will definitely get them ready as well, and it could possibly even alter their own play style.
If SVSU can continue to pick up wins and end up as a top three seed in their region, thus getting them an easier road at Nationals, then they could be in good shape. This team has the talent to make at least the National Quarterfinals again, and they could be in line for even more.