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Volleyball starts postseason in Omaha

For the first time in six years, Washington did not earn a national seed and the right to host. The Huskies face Saint Mary’s in the opening round (Friday, 1:30 Pacific) with #9 Creighton as the group favorite.

Edward Strong

The NCAA Volleyball tournament will not be played in Seattle for the first time since 2011. Washington is the 2-seed within the pod playing at D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, hosted by #9 national seed Creighton. Free live stream of all games will be available through FOX Sports GO; the direct link to Washington-Saint Mary’s can be found here, while all other links can be found through the Creighton volleyball schedule.

The full bracket is available here. The winner of the Omaha group will be matched up against the winner of the State College sub-regional, hosted by #8 Penn State. Most likely, that match would be played that match in Palo Alto, CA, as #1 Stanford will host the regional as long as they don’t get upset within the first two rounds, which seems extremely unlikely.

  • Friday, 1:30 PM PT: Saint Mary’s (19-9, 11-7 WCC) vs Washington (18-12, 10-10 Pac-12)
  • Friday, ~4 PM PT: South Dakota (21-9, 13-3 Summit) at #9 Creighton (28-4, 18-0 Big East)
  • Saturday, 5 PM PT: Second-round game

Scouting Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s was one of an unexpectedly generous five teams to make the tournament from the WCC. BYU is the #4 overall seed, and Pepperdine seemed sure to make it as well. But Saint Mary’s and San Diego were both right on the bubble, and Loyola Marymount, which looked to be a pretty fringe bubble candidate, made it in as well.

Senior OH #17 Lindsey Knudsen is clearly the offensive star for the Gaels, named first-team all-WCC. She hit a solid .252 despite being the OH1, which tends to earn you a lot of out-of-system sets that are hard to kill and easy to miss.

Senior OH #15 Sarah Chase has come on strong at the end of the year to keep her career alive, earning all-WCC Honorable Mention. In a pair of wins to end the regular season, Chase hit .458 in a key sweep of fellow bubble team San Diego, then .353 in a win over Santa Clara, committing just 3 total errors in the two matches combined.

One positive thing about this matchup for the Huskies is that Saint Mary’s is not a big blocking team, averaging 2.2 blocks per set, only slightly above their B/S allowed of 2.1 (by comparison, Washington averages 2.4 B/S in the much tougher Pac-12, while an elite team such as Stanford or BYU averages around 3). With a freshman setter in Ella May Powell still getting fully acclimated to her new hitters, UW’s worst matches have usually come when the opponent’s block makes a big impact, which seems less likely to happen in this matchup.

Odd fact that could possibly have some effect on the match, but probably not: UW Head Coach Keegan Cook is both a Saint Mary’s alumnus and a former assistant coach in their program.