Breaking Betty: Kansas Wins an MLC Full of Surprises

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With four qualifiers from last year’s nationals in the field, there was no real favorite heading into Missouri Loves Company X in Columbia, Missouri, but the weekend’s results ventured far from expectations.

The top four seeds went a combined 4-12 on Saturday and a team from outside of the power pools, Missouri State, would push all the way to the final. It was Kansas that walked away with the crown, announcing their contention in the South Central region this season.

There were signs from the beginning that MLC’s seedings weren’t just going to be broken, but obliterated by the unexpected performances across the board. With the two five-team power pools drawing the bulk of the attention, a trio of top seeded teams all fell: top seed Iowa went down to their pool’s five seed, Wisconsin Eau-Claire, while Wisconsin was defeated by Illinois. To top it off, Kansas decimated Northwestern by a count of 13-3.

“We are used to being the underdogs, and we were even pretty excited about out placement in power pools on Saturday,” said Kansas Betty captain Kat Songer. “Being able to hold our own and win against teams with such strong histories was even more thrilling.”

By the end of Saturday, Colorado Kali and Kansas sat atop Pool A and an undefeated Illinois won Pool B which featured a three way tie for the 2nd spot between Purdue, Iowa State, and Colorado State. Wisconsin went 0-4 while Iowa and Northwestern both tallied 1-3 records.

Sunday’s semifinals would pit Colorado against Missouri State, who had battled up from the lower pools, and Kansas versus Illinois. Colorado ran out of gas, struggling against Missouri State’s zone tactics — a good way to garner fall wins — and Kansas knocked out a returner-heavy Illinois squad. A matchup of “friendly rivals,” as Songer calls them, went Kansas’s way in the final.

As always in the fall, there’s no way to know how much of these results can be extrapolated in hopes of prognosticating the spring. For the North Central fans, the weekend doesn’t inspire confidence; last year’s five bid region already had question marks coming into this season, and a weekend with only one quarterfinalist — Wisconsin-Eau Claire — won’t assuage any fears.

Kansas’s win, while not catapulting them to the top of the power rankings, is not without meaning.

“We know that fall tournaments are not necessarily true indicators of where teams will be in the Spring, and we expect to see some of these other teams improve drastically before we play them again,” Songer said following the team’s MLC victory. “That being said, we also have not peaked yet.”

The team credits their coaches, Loren Schieber and Jack Colicchio, as being vital components to their success and the growth Kansas has undergone. After a solid showing last year, the team is picking up steam heading towards a Spring where they aim to make noise. With talent like Songer and strong leadership, Betty has an opportunity to hit the mark in the South Central.

  1. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email (keith@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

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