The NCAA Division 1 volleyball tournament kicked off tonight in schools across the country. The Pac-12 sent 7 teams to the 64 team tournament this year, tied with the Big 10 for the most entries. Two of those teams played on the first day, USC and Cal.
USC is the number six seed in the tournament and the Trojans did their best to show that they deserve as they demolished the Fairfield University Stags. The unfortunate Stags went down in 3 straight sets, the closest of which was only 11-25.
Cal started the tournament up against the Tar Heels. Only the top 16 teams in the tournament have their seed rankings listed and neither team in this match-up made the cut. Cal lost the first two sets by only 2 points with the first one going to 26. The Golden Bears made an effort to claw their way back with a convincing 25-18 win in set number 3 only to lose the match with an even more convincing set 4 loss at 25-15.
Tomorrow will see the entry games for the remaining 5 PAC-12 teams. You can find a full bracket with scheduled times on the NCAA site. Most importantly for the Dawg Pound, the Huskies will start their tournament run. Washington was ranked 5th in the final coaches poll, but only 16th in the RPI rankings. The tournament seeding is based off of a combination of these two and the Dawgs ended up with the 13 seed for the bracket. The 16 top seeds get the privilege of hosting, so we get to start our campaign at home tomorrow night.
Action kicks off tomorrow at 5pm in Hec Ed as Santa Clara takes on Hawaii at 5pm. At 7pm (or after the first game wraps up), the Purple and Gold will take on the Purple and Grey of Central Arkansas. While the Volleyball tournament is a perennial event for the Huskies, it will be Central Arkansas' first ever appearance. And while the Huskies should be expected to win this handily, the Sugar Bears have nothing to lose and everything to prove. They ended their season 27-4 and nothing should be taken for granted in a single elimination tournament.
A bit of good news for the Huskies is that kill leader Krista Vansant is expected to be out of her leg brace and ready for action. The girls have done a great job over the past two and a half matches without her (Kyla Muñoz had a career game at WSU with 15 strikes!). However, Krista is as close to irreplaceable you get. She was recently voted into the All PAC-12 team and it's good news if we can go into the post season at full strength.
The game will air on UWTV (not the PAC 12 Network) and will be streamed online on NCAA LIVE. However, there is no reason not to go in person if you are in the area. General admission ticket prices start at only $15 and include the games on both Friday and Saturday night.