Six Pac-12 volleyball teams earn NCAA Tournament bids
SAN FRANCISCO - Six Pac-12 volleyball teams earned NCAA Tournament bids, the NCAA Division I Volleyball Committee announced on Sunday night. Three-time Pac-12 and defending NCAA Champion STANFORD earned the league’s automatic qualifier and was tabbed the No. 3 seed overall. WASHINGTON also received a top-16 seeding in the bracket at No. 8 overall, giving both schools the right to host first- and second-round matches. Also earning at-large bids were UCLA, USC, UTAH and WASHINGTON STATE.
The Pac-12 has sent at least six teams to the NCAA Tournament every year since 2000. With Stanford entering the postseason as the defending NCAA Champion, the Conference has a NCAA-leading 16 national championships to its credit, with the Cardinal winning two of the last three.
The first round of the NCAA Tournament take place next weekend beginning Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5 and 6, with the second round taking place on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7. All first-round matches involving Pac-12 teams takes place Friday, Dec. 5, with the winners moving on to the second round on Saturday, Dec. 7. With a top-four seed, Stanford has the possibility of hosting through to the regional rounds which take place Dec. 13-14. The national semifinal and championship matches will be held at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec. 19 and 21. The national semifinal matches will broadcast on ESPN and the championship match will broadcast on ESPN2.
The No. 3 seed overall, STANFORD (24-4, 18-2) claimed its 19th Pac-12 title this season, winning the league crown in all three seasons under head coach Kevin Hambly. The defending national champion won its NCAA-leading eighth NCAA title last year, the team’s second in three years. One of just two teams to have earned a berth to all 39 NCAA Tournaments (along with Penn State), Stanford hosts Summit League Champion Denver (23-8) in the first round, also hosting the first-round clash between Georgia (20-9) and Cal Poly (20-8).
Placing second in the Pac-12, eighth-seeded WASHINGTON (24-6, 15-5) is making its 18th-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Huskies have won at least 20 matches every year since 2002 and have finished in the top two in the Conference for the sixth time in seven years. UW hosts Big South Champion Winthrop (24-4) in the first round and could face the winner of Mountain West Champion Colorado State (29-1) and South Carolina (19-11).
UCLA (18-11, 13-7) tied for fourth place in the Pac-12 and is back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season. This marks the 36th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Bruins who travel to Madison, Wis., to face Notre Dame (19-9) in the first round. The Bruins could face the winner of the Illinois State (22-11) and Wisconsin (22-6) matchup. The Badgers are the No. 4 overall seed and the Big Ten Champion.
USC (17-13, 11-9) continues its NCAA Tournament appearance streak with 29 in a row after finished in sixth in the Pac-12. The Trojans take on Southland Champion Stephen F. Austin (31-1), one of only two 30-match winners in the bracket, on Friday. The winner of the match goes on to face the winner of Baylor (25-1), the No. 1 overall seed and co-Big 12 Champion, and Northeast Conference Champion Sacred Heart (20-11) in Waco, Texas, in the second round.
Under the direction of 30th-year head coach Beth Launiere, UTAH (22-9, 14-6) enters the tournament after posting its best-ever Pac-12 finish, coming in third place. The Utes are making their 16th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth-straight, and will not have to travel far for its first-round match against Illinois (16-13), heading to Provo, Utah. No. 14-seeded BYU (25-4) plays host, taking on WAC Champion New Mexico State (27-3) also in the first round. The second round could be a potential rematch between the Cougars and Utes from Sept. 19, in which BYU won, 3-1, in Salt Lake City.
WASHINGTON STATE (23-9, 12-8) is making its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 14th all-time. The Cougs placed fifth in the Pac-12, sweeping the regular-season series against rival Washington for the first time since the 2001 season. WSU advanced to the regional semifinal last year for the first time since 2002. The Cougs face WCC Champion San Diego (24-5), traveling to Big West Champion and 12th-seeded Hawai’i (24-3), who is also hosting Big Sky Champion Northern Colorado (26-7).
The Pac-12 owns a record 16 NCAA Tournament titles in the sport of women’s volleyball with the Cardinal winning its eighth all-time.
2019 Division I NCAA Volleyball Championship
Thursday and Friday, December 6 and 7
#3 Stanford (24-4) vs. Denver (23-8)
Georgia (20-9) vs. Cal Poly (20-8)
UCLA (18-11) vs. Notre Dame (19-9)
#4 Wisconsin (22-6) vs. Illinois State (22-11)
USC (17-13) vs. SFA (31-1)
#1 Baylor vs. Sacred Heart (20-11)
Utah (22-9) vs. Illinois (16-13)
#14 BYU (25-4) vs. New Mexico State (27-3)
#8 Washington (24-6) vs. Winthrop (24-4)
Colorado State (29-1) vs. South Carolina (19-11)
Washington State (23-9) vs. San Diego (24-5)
#12 Hawai’i (24-3) vs. Northern Colorado (26-7)