Eight Pac-12 volleyball teams earn NCAA tournament bids

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Erin Chang/Stanford Athletics

SAN FRANCISCO - Eight Pac-12 volleyball teams earned NCAA Tournament bids, the most for any conference in the country, the NCAA Division I Volleyball Committee announced on Sunday night. Pac-12 Champion STANFORD earned the No. 1-overall seed while three more earned a top-16 seeding giving them the right to host first- and second-round sites. It is the fifth time in six years the Pac-12 has sent at least eight teams to the NCAA Tournament, and the eighth-straight year with at least seven.

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament take place this weekend beginning Thursday, Nov. 29 and Friday, Nov. 30. In addition to the Cardinal, No. 11-seed USC, No. 15 OREGON and No. 16 WASHINGTON STATE host first- and second-round matches. With a top-four seed, Stanford has the possibility of hosting through to the regional rounds which take place Dec. 7-8. The national semifinal and championship matches will be held in Minneapolis, Dec. 13 and 15.

Top-seeded STANFORD claimed its 18th Pac-12 title this season under second-year head coach Kevin Hambly, going a perfect 20-0. The Cardinal are the first undefeated Pac-12 Champion since 2003 and the ninth all-time. Stanford is one of just two teams to have earned a berth to all 38 NCAA Tournaments, along with Penn State. After winning the national championship in 2016, the Cardinal are tied with the Nittany Lions for the most NCAA titles all-time at seven. Stanford hosts SWAC Champion Alabama State (23-17) in the first round, also hosting Loyola Marymount (20-9) and Duke (16-11). First-round matches take place on Friday, Nov. 30, with the winners moving on to the second round on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Ending the season tied for second in the Pac-12 for the second-straight year, boasting a 13-7 league record and 21-10 overall record, USC is the No. 11 seed and hosts SoCon Champion Samford (19-14) in the first round. The Trojans are making their 36th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, winning the title in 2002 and 2003. The 2003 title team was the last undefeated Pac-12 Champion, also going a perfect 35-0 that year. USC also hosts San Diego (16-12) and Big West Champion Cal Poly (25-2), with the first-round matches also taking place on Friday. The second-round match is scheduled for Saturday.

No. 15-seeded OREGON ends the season matching its best-ever showing in Pac-12 play, tying for second in the standings. The Ducks last finished second in 2012, the same year they appeared in their only national championship match. Oregon posts its ninth 20-win campaign in 12 years, going 20-10 this season also going 13-7 in league matches. Making their 16th all-time appearance, the Ducks host WAC Champion New Mexico State (24-7) in the first round, also welcoming Hawai’i (18-8) and Baylor (19-8) on Thursday, Nov. 29, with a potential rematch with the Wahine on Friday, Nov. 30 in the second round. UO defeated UH in back-to-back meetings earlier this season on Sept. 13 and 14 in Honolulu.

No. 16 seed WASHINGTON STATE is making its third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, a feat it last achieved from 2000-2002. The Cougs’ seeding is also its highest since garnering the No. 12 seed in 2002. WSU finished the 2018 campaign in fourth with a 12-8 league record, the team’s best showing since 2002. Its 21-9 overall record is only the second 20-win campaign since 2003, also going over the 20-win mark for the second time in three years. Making its 13th all-time appearance, WSU hosts Big Sky Champion Northern Arizona (26-8) in the first round on Friday, while also welcoming Tennessee (25-5) and Mountain West Champion Colorado State (23-7). The winners play in the second round on Saturday.

ARIZONA (22-10, 11-9) is back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season, breaking a streak of four-consecutive appearances. The Wildcats finished fifth in the Pac-12 after being picked ninth in the preseason. UA makes its 29th all-time appearance in the tournament when it travels to face Missouri (23-7) at No. 7-seeded Nebraska (24-6), where the Huskers also host Hofstra (25-7) on Friday. The second round in Lincoln, Neb., is scheduled for Saturday.

COLORADO (18-13), UTAH (18-13) and WASHINGTON (18-12) each earn postseason bids after finishing in a tie for sixth in the Pac-12 with a 10-10 record. The Buffs travel to face Minneapolis to face South Carolina (19-9) in the first round on Friday. Colorado is in the tournament for the second-straight year and the 20th time all-time. The other first-round match is between No. 2-seeded and Big Ten Champion Minnesota (25-3) and Northeast Champion Bryant (22-12). The winners of the first round go on to the second round on Saturday.

UTAH will not travel far for their NCAA Tournament appearances, going to Provo, Utah, to play Summit League Champion Denver (27-2). It will be rematch of a Aug. 25 clash which was decided in five sets, the Utes coming away with the win. Utah is making its 15th appearance in the tournament this week beginning on Friday. Host and fourth-seeded West Coast Champion BYU (27-1) hosts America East Champion Stony Brook (21-8) in the first round, as well. If the Utes and Cougars advance, it would be the second time the teams face each other this season, BYU claiming a 3-0 win on Sept. 13.

WASHINGTON heads to Big East Champion Creighton (28-4) for its first-round match against Saint Mary’s (Calif.) on Friday, with a potential second-round match on Saturday against the host Blue Jays or South Dakota (21-9). The Huskies are making their 23rd appearance and 17th straight. UW advanced to the national semifinal in 2013 and last year reached the regional semifinal.

The Pac-12 owns a record 15 NCAA Tournament titles in the sport of women’s volleyball with the Cardinal winning the Conference’s most recent title. First- and second-round matches will be played November 29 through December 1 at 16 campus sites. Teams winning both matches move on to regional play December 7 and 8 where four teams compete in single-elimination regional semifinal competition. The regional winners advance to the national semifinals and championship final hosted by Minnesota on December 13 and 15 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The national semifinal matches will broadcast on ESPN and the championship match will broadcast on ESPN2.

All regional and championship site match times can be found on the attached championship bracket or online at www.ncaa.com/wvb.

For more information on the NCAA Tournament, visit ncaa.com/volleyball.

2018 Division I NCAA Volleyball Championship
Thursday-Friday, November 29-30
#11 USC (21-10) vs. Samford (19-14)
San Diego (16-12) vs. Cal Poly (25-2)
Los Angeles, Calif.

#15 OREGON (20-10) vs. New Mexico State (24-7)
Hawai’i (18-8) vs. Baylor (19-8)
Eugene, Ore. 

Friday-Saturday, November 30-December 1
#1 STANFORD (28-1) vs. Alabama State (23-17)
Loyola Marymount (20-9) vs. Duke (16-11)
Stanford, Calif.

#17 Nebraska (24-6) vs. Hofstra (25-7)
ARIZONA (22-10) vs. Missouri (23-7)
Lincoln, Neb.

COLORADO (18-13) vs. South Carolina (19-9)
#2 Minnesota (25-3) vs. Bryant (22-12)
Minneapolis, Minn.

UTAH (18-13) vs. Denver (27-2)
#4 BYU (27-1) vs. Stony Brook (21-8)
Provo, Utah

#9 Creighton (28-4) vs. South Dakota (21-9)
WASHINGTON (18-12) vs. St. Mary’s (19-9)
Omaha, Neb.

Tennessee (25-5) vs. Colorado State (23-7)
#16 WASHINGTON STATE (21-9) vs. Northern Arizona (26-8)
Pullman, Wash.

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