Gophers to host North Dakota in NCAA tournament


The University of Minnesota volleyball program received the No. 7 overall seed in the 2017 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championships and will host the First and Second Round of the tournament, Friday and Saturday night, announced tonight by on ESPNU.

The Bears (28-5) take on 10th-ranked Michigan State (21-8) in Omaha Friday at 4 p.m., while the Panthers (26-8) take on Louisville (24-6) Friday at 4:30 in Minneapolis. Thursday's victor faces the host Utah (22-9)-Cleveland State (22-7) victor in Saturday's second-round match.

Kentucky volleyball got one of the top four seeds in the tournament and will host East Tennessee State at Memorial Coliseum on Friday in their first match.

The Red Raiders, who finished 15-14 overall and 4-12 in the Big 12 Conference, were selected Sunday to compete in the 32-team National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Meanwhile, it's the first time HPU has advanced to the national tournament in back-to-back seasons. Saturday's Second Round contest will begin at 6 p.m. If Nebraska advances it would meet Florida State or Washington State in the second round. UNI's last NCAA appearance came in 2016 when the Panthers dropped a five-set match to Creighton in Lawrence, Kansas, in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. While the Big Ten season is a grind, it also gives our teams a level of preparation to go toe-to-toe with the other great teams in this tournament. Western Kentucky is 30-3 on the season and earned an automatic bid into the field by winning the Conference USA Tournament title.

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No. 25 Missouri State, which won the regular season and tournament championship, was joined by at-large selection Northern Iowa in the field. Missouri State boasts the MVC Player of the Year in Lily Johnson, the Libero of the Year in Emily Butters, and the Coach of the Year in Melissa Stokes. The longtime Big Eight and Big 12 rivals parted ways when Mizzou left for the Southeastern Conference in 2012, though KU beat MU in the first round of the 2015 tournament.

It's the sixth NCAA trip in program history, but the first time that Baylor has ever hosted.

Lohman said that with the recent struggles the Gophers have had, losing three of their past six matches, the No. 7 seed was a good place for the squad to land.