OMAHA, Neb. -- The Creighton University Volleyball team was selected to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history today, earning an at-large bid to the 64-team bracket.
The Bluejays will face Iowa State (20-8) on Friday in Minneapolis, Minn,. in matches held at the Sports Pavilion. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the Minnesota/North Dakota State match. Creighton's match on Friday will be at 4:30 pm, while Saturday's second-round contest would begin at 6 pm.
"Receiving our first bid to the NCAA obviously is very exciting," said Creighton head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. "As I told the team, not only is this for their hard work, but for the many talented young women who have built the Creighton volleyball program that didn't get the opportunity to play in an NCAA tournament.
"I'm really proud that three weeks ago this team had their backs against the wall and needed to win several consecutive matches to put themselves in contention for an at-large bid. They stepped up at every opportunity and earned the right to be playing next week. I couldn't be prouder of these 16 young women."
Creighton heads into the postseason with a 20-11 record after taking third place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 13-5 league record. The Bluejays defeated Drake and Wichita State in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament before falling to nationally-ranked Northern Iowa in yesterday'y tournament final.
The Bluejays are coached by Kirsten Bernthal Booth, who is in her eighth year with the program. Sophomore setter Megan Bober (10.30 aps.,1.47 kps., 1.94 dps., 0.89 bps.) was a first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection, while senior OH Alicia Runge (3.83 kps.) and junior MB Laurel Sanford (2.45 kps., 1.08 bps.) were second-team all-Valley picks. In addition, seniors Allie Oelke (2.42 kps., 3.77 dps.) and Nayka Benitez (4.40 dps.) were named to the all-MVC Tournament Team yesterday.
Making the visit to Minneapolis all the more memorable is the fact that both Sanford (Eagan) and Oelke (Chanhassen) hail from the Minneapolis metro area.
Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket.
The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were No. 1 University of Florida; No. 2 University of Nebraska, Lincoln; No. 3 Stanford University; and No. 4 Pennsylvania State University.
The established bracketing principles of non-conference first- and second-round matchups were followed and team pairings were determined by geographical proximity.
The Big Ten Conference led all conferences with eight teams selected. The Southeastern Conference garnered seven teams and the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference and Pacific-10 Conference each have five teams in the tournament. Two teams, Penn State and Stanford have earned bids to all 30 championships. Eight teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: Auburn University, Austin Peay State University, California State University, Fullerton, Creighton University, High Point University, Sacred Heart University, South Carolina State University and Virginia Polytechnic Instituite and State University.
In the 29-year history of the championship, 10 schools have been crowned champion, nine of which are in this year's bracket, including three-time defending champion Penn State.
Additional past winners making the field are Stanford (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04), University of Hawaii, Manoa (1982, 83, 87), Long Beach State University (1989, 93, 98), University of California, Los Angeles (1984, 90, 91), University of Nebraska, Lincoln (1995, 2000, and 06), University of Southern California (1981, 2002, 03), Penn State (1999, 2007, 08, 09), University of Texas at Austin (1988) and University of Washington (2005).
First- and second-round matches will be played at 16 campus sites. A list of the first-round match-ups follows.
AUSTIN, TEXAS REGIONAL December 3-4 at Gainesville, Florida No. 1 Florida (27-1) vs. South Carolina St. (17-22) Ga. Southern (27-8) vs. Florida St. (21-10)
December 3-4 at West Lafayette, Indiana Middle Tenn. (29-5) vs. Louisville (22-7) Kentucky (17-13) vs. No. 16 Purdue (21-10)
December 3-4 at Austin, Texas No. 9 Texas (23-5) vs. UTSA (22-11) American (29-2) vs. UCLA (21-8)
December 3-4 at Champaign, Illinois Cincinnati (29-5) vs. Western Ky. (27-8) Austin Peay (26-7) vs. No. 8 Illinois (22-8)
UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA REGIONAL December 3-4 at Cedar Falls, Iowa No. 5 UNI (30-2) vs. Missouri (20-10) Arizona (20-11) vs. Northwestern (19-12)
December 3-4 at Durham, North Carolina Ohio (21-12) vs. Penn (17-10) High Point (22-12) vs. No. 12 Duke (24-6)
December 3-4 at Norman, Oklahoma No. 13 LSU (25-4) vs. Tulsa (30-2) Wichita St. (21-7) vs. Oklahoma (21-10)
December 3-4 at University Park, Pennsylvania Virginia Tech (19-11) vs. Delaware (26-5) Niagara (25-8) vs. No. 4 Penn St. (26-5)
DAYTON, OHIO REGIONAL December 3-4 at Stanford, California No. 3 Stanford (24-3) vs. Albany (NY) (22-8) Cal St. Fullerton (26-5) vs. Colorado St. (25-4)
December 3-4 at Dayton, Ohio Ohio St. (22-11) vs. Lipscomb (24-6) Butler (21-9) vs. No. 14 Dayton (27-3)
December 3-4 at Bloomington, Indiana No. 11 Tennessee (24-6) vs. Alabama A&M (16-10) Miami (FL) (23-8) vs. Indiana (21-11)
December 3-4 at Los Angeles, California San Diego (23-5) vs. Long Beach St. (25-7) New Mexico (20-9) vs. No. 6 Southern California (25-4)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON REGIONAL December 3-4 at Berkeley, California No. 7 California (25-3) vs. Utah St. (24-8) Mississippi (19-10) vs. North Carolina (24-9)
December 3-4 at Minneapolis, Minnesota Iowa St. (20-8) vs. Creighton (20-11) North Dakota St. (20-10) vs. No. 10 Minnesota (24-8)
December 2-3 at Seattle, Washington No. 15 Hawaii (28-2) vs. Portland St. (21-8) Washington (21-8) vs. Michigan (23-9)
December 2-3 at Lincoln, Nebraska Auburn (20-12) vs. Missouri St. (21-9) Sacred Heart (29-6) vs. No. 2 Nebraska (27-2)
Teams winning both matches will move on to regional play December 10 and 11. The pre-determined regional sites are Austin, Texas; University Park, Pennsylvania; Dayton, Ohio; and Seattle, Washington. The regional winners will advance to the semifinals and final hosted by the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Kansas City Sports Commission at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 16 and 18.