College Update: Opening Weekend

Tournament play gets underway and the 2024 season begins in earnest.

California-Irvine’s Kobi McCracken during pool play at SoCal Conferences 2023. California-Irvine secured a spot at Pres Day Invite with the Pres Day Quals win. Photo: Meg Hofner – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college season is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

Throughout the spring season, we’ll publishing a bite-sized weekly recap of the action across the college division. This will serve as a supplement to our standard tournament reporting and offer a high-level look at the latest happenings and the biggest stories of the week. Stay tuned for our College Primers, which are expected to be published this week for each division.

Want your tournament listed? Submit a recap of what happened right here.

D-I Women’s

UNC Continue Winning Streak

#1 North Carolina Pleiades continue their undefeated streak with a 5-0 run through the round robin of Carolina Kickoff, and take home the tournament championship with a win over #23 NC State in the final. NC State were the second-best team present, playing UNC within three points during pool play.

Looking Ahead

Santa Barbara Invite is the biggest tournament of the upcoming weekend with teams who populate the back half of our Top 10 all in action. Games will be streamed live on Ultiworld and we will have written coverage of the event as well. #4 UBC, #5 Stanford, #6 Oregon, #7 Carleton, #8 Washington, #9 BYU, #10 UCSB, #13 UCSD, and #15 Victoria, will be challenged by strong opposition in UCLA, Cal, Utah, and Cal Poly SLO among a full field of teams.

Elsewhere, New Year Fest (Arizona), T-Town Throwdown (Florida State), and Winta Binta Vinta (#21 Virginia) feature regional action headlined by the hometown team.

D-I Men’s

Georgia State Roll in Starkville

Georgia State capped off an undefeated opening tournament with a title against a field full of developmental teams at the Starkville Qualifiers. Their closest game was a pool play matchup against Mississippi State B that finished 15-8. Home teams Mississippi State B and C both had good weekends, with the B team making the final and the C team winning their pool before losing to the B team by one in the semifinal. The Starkville Invitationals will be held February 10-11.

Pres Day Quals

Out in sunny California, San Luis Obispo hosted the Pres Day Qualifier, with the winner given a spot at the prestigious Pres Day tournament in San Diego over President’s Day Weekend. UCLA B scored an upset in Pool Play, knocking off Santa Clara to take the top spot in their pool, but Smoke lost to Loyola Marymount in the quarterfinal round.

The tournament got creative for the semifinal round as contestants LMU, SLO-B, and youth team Gold Rush (which dominated play) did not want to win the bid to Pres Day. Instead of playing out the games as scheduled, the fourth semifinalist, UC Irvine, played a game against Santa Clara (who had lost to Gold Rush in the quarterfinal round) in the de facto tournament final for the bid. Irvine won 9-6, securing their first appearance at Pres Day in recent history.

Looking Ahead

This coming weekend marks the traditional start to the competitive season in the D-I Men’s division. Santa Barbara Invite and Carolina Kickoff will host teams from both coasts (as well as a few midwest teams escaping the cold). Ultiworld will have full coverage of both events including live streams and written recaps.

Santa Barbara Invite features ranked teams in #4 SLO, #5 BYU, #7 Oregon, #14 Cal, #16 Washington, #17 UCLA, #18 Utah, and #23 UCSC as well as esteemed challengers like UCSD, UBC, Victoria, Stanford, USC, and D-III’s Oklahoma Christian. This could be the first year in recent memory that SLO take down BYU in their annual Friday night showcase game.

The Men’s Division edition of Carolina Kickoff takes place this weekend featuring 2023 Nationals qualifiers in #1 North Carolina and #19 NC State. Duke, UNC Wilmington, South Carolina, UNC Charlotte, and Penn State are other teams with Nationals aspirations who will compete at the event.

Elsewhere, Mid-Atlantic Warm Up, T-Town Throwdown, and New Year Fest feature regionally competitive teams with a few looking to push into the national picture. Trouble in Corvegas also plays this weekend, attempting to bring the sparkle of the Sin City up north to Corvallis, Oregon.

D-III Women’s

Headline

No D-III women’s teams were in action during the first weekend, but there are some storylines on the horizon. Stay tuned for our season primer coming soon!

Looking Ahead

#14 Union appears to be the only D-III team in action next weekend when they’ll compete against D-I competition at T-Town Throwdown.

D-III Men’s

The only D-III team in sanctioned action, Harding, had a good showing at the Starkville Qualifiers. The team fell in the semifinal to eventual champions Georgia State.

Looking Ahead

Out west, #6 Oklahoma Christian will compete against D-I schools in the Santa Barbara Invite. #21 Davidson and #22 Carleton CHOP are the lone representatives from D-III at Carolina Kickoff, a D-I tournament. Meanwhile, #4 Richmond and Mary Washington will play a few hours up the road at Mid-Atlantic Warm Up. Union will be in action as well at T-Town Throwdown.

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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