NCAA Volleyball Tournament

The NCAA Volleyball Tournament began last Friday, Dec. 1, with 64 teams in contention for the national championship. After two days of play, only 16 teams remain. The top-seven overall seeds are left standing with nine other volleyball teams, so be on the lookout for plenty of good matches as tournament play continues in the regionals.

1. Penn State (31-1 , 19-1 Big Ten)

The Nittany Lions entered the tournament as the top overall seed, and they looked the part in their two wins last weekend. The team shocked fans when it dropped a set to Howard in the first round. But PSU managed to come back and grab a 3-1 win in the Round of 64 and then took down Pittsburgh 3-1 in Happy Valley. Penn State will host Missouri on Friday, Dec. 8, and a pair of Big Ten teams, Michigan State and Illinois, will also match up in State College, Pennsylvania, over the weekend.

2. Stanford (28-3, 19-1 Pac-12)

Stanford earned the third No. 1 seed in the tournament and, in its first two games, showed why it was awarded such a seed. The Cardinal swept Cal State-Bakersfield on Friday and did the same to Colorado State on Saturday. The Pac-12 champions will play host to a dangerous Wisconsin team which didn’t lose a game out of conference on Friday after Texas and Utah square off.

3. Florida (27-1, 17-1 SEC)

Florida was the No. 2 overall seed when the tournament began and had an easy time winning its first two games. In the first round, the Gators beat Alabama State three sets to none then beat Miami in Gainesville, Florida, three sets to one. All four national seeds assigned to Florida’s region remain in the tournament, and the SEC champions will be challenged by UCLA on Friday, and the winner will face either Minnesota or USC.

4. Nebraska (28-4, 19-1 Big Ten)

While it might not have shown it, Nebraska likely felt some anger at not being awarded a No. 1 seed. The No. 5 seed, or the top-second seed, certainly made a convincing case for a one seed in its first two games, both sweeps. On Friday, the Huskers swept Stony Brook, and Washington State was the victim on Saturday. Nebraska will square off with Colorado on Friday in Lexington, Kentucky, for the right to face the winner of Kentucky and BYU.

5. Kentucky (28-3, 17-1 SEC)

The Wildcats drew the last No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament and they looked like the most vulnerable of the bunch. After sweeping East Tennessee State in Round 1, Kentucky lost the first two sets to Western Kentucky before pulling off the reverse sweep to advance to the Sweet 16. The team will host the next round of games in Lexington, where it will play BYU. Nebraska and Colorado fill out the regional.

6. Texas (26-2, 16-0 Big 12)

Ranked one spot behind former Big 12 foe Nebraska, the second No. 2 seeded team rolled over its first two opponents. The Big 12 champion Longhorns swept Fairfield in the Round of 64 and did the same to North Carolina State. Texas will face Utah for its Sweet 16 game in Palo Alto, California, and the winner will face either Stanford or Wisconsin.

7. Minnesota (28-5, 15-5 Big Ten)

The Golden Gophers were the Big Ten’s third-highest seeded team entering the tournament behind Penn State and Nebraska, but they looked just as good as their conference foes in winning their first two games of the tournament. In the first round, Minnesota vanquished North Dakota in a sweep, and it bested Northern Iowa three sets to one. The team travels to Gainesville to face USC this weekend, with the winner set to face either Florida or UCLA.

8. USC (24-9, 14-6 Pac-12)

Southern California is the last of the top-10 national seeds in these power rankings and sit in eighth place after losses by Washington and Creighton in the round of 32. The Trojans beat Central Arkansas in four sets before winning in five sets over San Diego. For the next round, USC will face Minnesota in Florida for the right to play the winner of Florida vs. UCLA.

9. Utah (24-9, 13-7 Pac-12)

The Utes triumphed over Cleveland State and Purdue to earn their spot in the Sweet 16. The team did not drop a set to Cleveland State and beat Purdue 3-1. The No. 11 overall seed will face Texas on Stanford’s campus and on Saturday, the winner will face the victor of the Stanford-Wisconsin game.

10. BYU (30-2, 17-1 WCC)

Brigham Young University will face Kentucky on Friday in its Sweet 16 game that will be held in Lexington, Kentucky. Either Nebraska or Colorado will await the winner on Saturday. The Cougars pounced on their opportunities in the first two rounds with dominating sweeps over American University and Oregon. The team earned the No. 13 seed overall, making it the top-ranked fourth seed.

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