VOLLEYBALL DRAWS MINNESOTA IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For the 10th time in the last 11 years, the Sacramento State volleyball squad will compete in the NCAA Div. I Tournament, it was announced by the NCAA selection committee today. The Hornets, who received an automatic berth into the Big Dance by virtue of winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament title yesterday for the sixth-consecutive season, are one of 64 teams that will compete for the NCAA championship.
The Hornets will travel to Stanford, Calif., to take on Minnesota (18-12) in the first round of the tournament on Friday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. Stanford, which is the No. 1 seed in the tournament, will take on Santa Clara in the other first round tilt at 7:30 p.m. Both matches will be played at Maples Pavilion on the Stanford campus. The winners of Sacramento State-Minnesota and Stanford-Santa Clara will face each other in the second round on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Different from years past, the Hornets finally were afforded the luxury of not having to face powerhouse Stanford in the first round of the tournament. In fact, Sacramento State has faced Stanford in the first round three times in the last five years (2002, 2003, 2006). The Hornets also traveled to Maples Pavilion to take on Santa Clara in the first round of the 2005 tournament, making this the fifth time in the last six years the Hornets will play their first round matchup at Stanford’s home facility.
The Hornets have faced a top 15 team each of their last five NCAA Tournament appearances, but drew a Minnesota team which is currently 18-12 overall and finished tied for third in the Big 10 Conference. The Golden Gophers are currently unranked, but were ranked among the top 13 teams in the nation during the first eight weeks of the season. Sacramento State is 0-2 all-time against Minnesota, and the last time the two teams met occurred during the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament (a 3-0 victory by the Gophers).
Sacramento State just completed a season in which the team went 28-7, while winning the Big Sky Tournament championship and a share of the league’s regular season title. The Hornets went 13-3 in league play and won six of their final seven matches of the season, including three-game sweeps of both Eastern Washington and Portland State in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals and championship, respectively.
Sacramento State faced seven teams which reached this season’s NCAA Tournament, and posted a 5-2 record against those teams. That included victories over Santa Clara, Xavier, Cal Poly, Alabama and Illinois State. Cal Poly received the tournament’s No. 16 seed, a team the Hornets beat in four games in San Francisco on Sept. 15 – the NCAA seeds just the top 16 teams for the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
Sacramento State has won eight Big Sky regular-season championships (1997-01, 2005-07) and nine Big Sky Tournament championships (1997-98, 2000, 2002-07) since joining the league in 1996. In fact, the team has won either the Big Sky’s regular season and/or tournament titles each of the last 11 years. The Hornets reached the NCAA Tournament in 1997-00, and every year since 2002. The team reached the second round of the 1998 tournament, the furthest Sacramento State has advanced.