Teams enter matchup a combined 20-2
The area has become a hotbed for collegiate volleyball and, tonight, Viterbo vs. the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse becomes a must-see.
This hasn't always been the case. It may have never been the case. It certainly hasn't been the case recently, as Viterbo has seemingly always dominated this matchup.
At 7 p.m. at Mitchell Hall, however, things could be different. Tonight, UW-L comes in undefeated and looking for the upset. Or are they the favorite?
"Roles are a little reversed record-wise, but I think our confidence is just as high," Viterbo outside hitter Sara Biermaier said.
The Eagles are 9-0 - their best start since going 11-0 in 2007 - and just cracked the Division 3 Top 25 at No. 18.
Viterbo isn't exactly slipping, ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, but Biermaier talked like the 11-2 record was disappointing. That's just the expectations of Viterbo, apparently.
Regardless, the two teams are off to incredible starts, but they're not alone.
Across the Mississippi River, Winona State University is 9-0 and just cracked the Top 10 in Division 2 for the first time in school history at No. 9, while Saint Mary's is off to a 7-1 start.
Back in La Crosse, this intra-city rivalry lately has been about Viterbo's dominance - a perennial powerhouse that's been to the Final Four each of the last two seasons.
The two teams play for the Coulee Cup - a giant gold cup and symbol of bragging rights in town. They hold it up after victory and do whatever it is they do with it that night - Biermaier wouldn't say.
"We've had the Coulee Cup for eight years, which is nuts," Biermaier said. "So, for all my three years, we've had it and definitely, my senior year, I'm not ready to give that up."
La Crosse senior Ida Steingas, however, has other ideas.
"I do feel like, this year, there's this little extra fire in us, not only to become 10-0, but to get the Coulee Cup would be icing on the cake," she said.
While Viterbo has had this cup, this matchup, the last eight seasons, it's UW-L that holds the all-time record at 27-11.