Volleyball in the middle of tight Summit League race

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

With just four games left in the Summit League, five teams are in a dead heat tie at top of the Summit League standings.

South Dakota State (9-3), North Dakota State (9-3), IPFW (9-3), Oral Roberts (9-3) and Western Illinois (9-3) all look to hold onto and win their remaining games and get one of the four seeds available to them.

Besides having identical league records, the top tier teams have other things in common. These teams do not lose at home; beside a 3-2 ORU defeat to WIU and IPFW victory over WIU, the top five teams do not lose. The five-playoff contenders conference has been so dominated at home that they have gone 28-2 in 2007.Only IPFW and WIU have a winning road record, IPFW has gone 5-3 away from Fort Wayne and WIU is 4-2.

While these schools have different make-ups and weaknesses, each team will have an advantage, which will serve them well.

SDSU probably has the best senior class in the entire league, and could have the best freshmen class. In order to land in the playoffs, the seniors must lead the team to the promised land. NDSU more than likely has the best home field advantage of any team in the league, which will be very good for the Bison when they take on Oral Roberts and Centenary in the final weekend of the regular season.

IPFW comes down the final stretch as perhaps the hottest team in the Summit League; IPFW has not lost at home to any team and will not leave the state of Indiana for the whole season unless they make it past the Summit Championships. They were also picked as the Summit League pre-season poll. Oral Roberts came in as the 2006 champion and is the oldest team by far. The Golden Eagles came in without a single senior and have a healthy dose of international players, with Janet Ferreria and Jackie Oliveria (both from Brazil) leading the ORU squad.

Western Illinois probably has the most to prove out of the top-tier teams. The Summit League pre-season poll picked WIU fifth place, despite finishing 9-3 in the mid-continent last year. For a large majority of the season they were on the outside looking in, but with an upset of Oral Roberts on Oct. 27 with two weekends left in the regular season a five-team first place was born. Western Illinois is led by senior Ashley Baker and setter Sarah Trimpe.

The Summit League pairs up two teams (based on geographical terms) and they travel together to face foes on Friday and Saturday. The only pair that features two top tier teams is NDSU and SDSU.

Through Oct. 21: Amy Anderson holds 60th place for blocks per game with 1.33 a game. Melia Iwamoto is in 47th place for assists in the nation with 12.33 a game. Samantha Pearson is 23rd in the nation with 5.72 digs per game.