This is it:
At 8:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday — with all of us hoping that the conclusion of the basketball game preceding it ends on time — the NCAA will announce the 64-team NCAA Division I women’s volleyball bracket in a one-hour show on ESPNU.
Who’s in? Who’s out?
We list all 32 conferences with who we know is in and who we think has a shot.
Saturday’s results certainly factored in.
Four conference-tournament titles were secured Saturday and the NCAA automatic bids that go with them: Creighton won the Big East, Northern Iowa won the Missouri Valley, Northern Arizona won the Big Sky, and NM State won the WAC.
In the Big Ten, Minnesota and Illinois won to all but secure their top-four seeds and Penn State, a day after dealing Minnesota its only league loss, was knocked off at home by Wisconsin.
And Texas won its Big 12 match against West Virginia.
All of Saturday’s recaps follow.
The first big question: Who gets the top four seeds, which means playing at home for the third and fourth rounds if you survive the first two?
The bet here is Stanford, Minnesota, Illinois and Texas.
Why? We explain in the league breakdowns.
What’s more, the top 16 teams are first- and second-round hosts, so that is no small thing, either.
We list the power-five conferences first, because they will take the bulk of the bids. None have post-season tournaments of their own.
Also, the selection criteria from the NCAA follows at the end of this story.
Tenth-ranked Pittsburgh (29-1, 17-1) won the title by two games over surging Florida State (19-9, 15-3). Syracuse (18-8, 14-4) and Louisville (21-8, 14-4) are in and perhaps Duke (16-11, 10-8).
Syracuse ended the regular season in the league’s only Saturday match by beating visiting Wake Forest (10-20, 5-13) in four. Polina Shemanova led a balanced attack with 14 kills and added 11 digs and a block. Santita Ebangwese had 13 kills, hit .500, and added four digs, two aces and eight blocks, and Ella Saada had 12 kills, 11 digs, two assists and two blocks.
Fifth-ranked Texas (20-4, 15-1) ended the season with a sweep of West Virginia (11-19, 2-14), while Oklahoma dealt Kansas a blow with a five-set win on the Jayhawks’ court.
Texas will be joined in the NCAA field by No. 25 Baylor (19-8, 11-5) and perhaps Kansas (15-12, 9-7) and/or Kansas State (15-12, 5-11). Suffice it to say both are pretty nervous.
Texas has a strong argument for getting a top-four seed, because the Longhorns lost twice to Stanford and to Wisconsin — a so-called “good” loss — but also Kansas, and that could be a deciding factor against.
Against West Virginia, Texas got 15 kills from Micaya White, who hit .452, and had an ace, four digs and three blocks. Yaazie Bedart-Ghani had 13 kills with no errors in 18 attacks to hit .722 and Morgan Johnson had nine kills in 12 errorless swings to hit .750 and had six blocks …
Oklahoma (17-11, 9-7) won 25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-8 as Alyssa Enneking had 20 kills, three assists, two aces, five digs and five blocks. Sarah Sanders had 13 kills, hit .360, and had four blocks and a dig. And Morgan Miller had 10 kills, an assist, an ace and eight digs.
Jada Burse led Kansas with 19 kills, three digs and four blocks. Ashley Smith had 13 kills and Rachel Langs 11 with one error in 20 swings to hit .500. She also had six blocks.
By all accunts — the NCAA RPI and other unofficial rankings — Minnesota and Illinois are locks for top-four seeds. Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan. Maryland is likely on the outside looking in.
Start with Minnesota, ranked No. 3 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Gophers (25-3, 19-1) won at Rutgers 25-13, 25-14, 25-20 as Adanna Rollins had 11 kills and Taylor Morgan 10. Rutgers finished 6-27, 0-20 in the B1G for the third year in a row. The Scarlet Knights went 1-19 in 2015 and have lost 71 B1G matches since …
No. 4 Illinois (28-3, 17-3) won at No. 12 Purdue (23-8, 12-8) as Jacqueline Quade led with 22 kills. Jordyn Poulter had 52 assists, three kills, seven digs and two blocks. Sherridan Atkinson led Purdue with 26 kills, hitting .423, to go with 11 digs …
No. 6 Nebraska (24-6, 15-15) swept visiting Maryland (18-14, 9-11) 25-13, 25-10, 25-18 behind 16 kills by Mikaela Foecke, who hit .577 to go with two assists, seven digs and two blocks. Maryland hit .021 …
No. 8 Wisconsin (22-6, 15-5) won at No. 7 Penn State (23-7, 14-6) in a true five-set thriller 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, 21-19. There were 13 ties and six lead changes in the fifth. Madison Duello had a career-high 24 kills as Wisconsin won at Penn State for just the second time ever and first since 2002. Duello, who hit .349, had three digs and three blocks. Dana Rettke had 14 kills, three aces, nine digs and 11 blocks. Nia Reed led Penn State with 20 kills, two digs and four blocks, one solo …
No. 18 Michigan (22-9, 11-9) beat visiting Michigan State (17-16, 5-15) 23-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-23. Carly Skjodt had 19 kills and 12 digs for Michigan and Paige Jones had 18 kills, seven digs and two blocks. Maddie Haggerty led the Spartans with 17 kills, two aces, 16 digs and a solo block …
And Iowa (15-16, 7-11) held off visiting Ohio State (12-20, 3-17) 24-26, 26-24, 25-19, 18-25, 16-14 as Reghan Coyle had 21 kills, hit .326 and had three digs and three blocks and Meghan Buzzerio had 16 kills and 14 digs. Bia Franklin had 18 kills, 11 digs, an ace and two blocks for Ohio State, which lost its last 12 matches of the season.
Stanford — whose only loss was in the third match of the season at BYU — is a clear No. 1, both in all the rankings and by anyone who watches the sport. If and when the Cardinal lose in the tournament, it will be an upset. The big question for the Pac-12 is if Colorado gets in. Stanford, USC, Washington State, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Arizona are in. UCLA might have gotten a bid, but the Bruins finished below .500 overall and were ineligible, no doubt to the glee of a handful of teams who are on the edge.
The big one Saturday was No. 20 Washington State (21-9, 12-8) holding off visiting No. 19 Washington (18-12, 10-10) 25-14, 16-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-10. Earlier this season WSU lost at Washington in five. This time, Taylor Mims led with 19 kills, 12 digs, three aces and five blocks, one solo. Teammate McKenna Woodford had 18 kills, three digs and four blocks, one solo. Kara Bajema had 20 kills for Washington to go with two assists, 17 digs and two blocks, one solo. Samantha Dreschsel had 15 kills, two digs and six blocks, two solo …
No. 23 Arizona (22-10, 11-9) finished above .500 in the league for the second time since 2005 as it won at Arizona State (14-18, 5-15) 25-12, 25-17, 25-23. Kendra Dahlke led with 11 kills, 10 digs and a solo block, and Paige Whipple had 10 kills and nine digs. Alyse Ford had 12 kills for ASU …
No. 17 Oregon (20-10, 13-7) tied for second with USC after its 19-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-14 win at Oregon State (11-21, 1-19). Willow Johnson led with 14 kills, two digs and four blocks. Ronika Stone had 11 kills, an assist, an ace, five digs and eight blocks, one solo, and Lindsey Vander Weide had 10 kills, an assist, two aces, and 20 digs. Amy Underdown had 19 kills, an ace, 10 digs and a block to lead Oregon State, which lost its last eight matches, three of them in five sets …
Stanford (28-1, 20-0) beat visiting Cal (15-16, 7-13) 25-23, 25-21, 25-19. Meghan McClure and Courtney Bowen had 11 kills each for the Cardinal. Tami Alade had five kills and eight blocks. Cal got eight kills from Mima Mirkovic.
Jennifer Dorr, promoted to interim head coach for this season, led the Bears to their best finish since 2013.
This is from the Cal story Saturday:
Cal will open up a full national search for head coach as Dorr completes her one-year contract in the position. Dorr assumed the role in an interim capacity with four games remaining in 2017 and signed on to lead the Bears for the 2018 season. Should Dorr apply, she will be considered for the position. A standout setter at Hawai’i, Dorr has been with the program since 2009, when she came on as a director of operations under legendary coach Rich Feller. In 2011, the Laguna Beach, Calif., native, was promoted to assistant coach.
Two of the league’s four ranked teams, SEC-winner No. 11 Kentucky (24-4, 18-0) and No. 22 and second-place Tennessee (25-5, 16-2), won Saturday and will be joined in the NCAA Tournament by No. 13 Florida (24-6, 15-3), No. 24 Missouri (23-7, 13-5) and South Carolina (19-9, 10-8), which lost to Florida.
The NCAA looks at late-season results and takes into consideration injuries and that might push Florida down in the seedings, because it has been without leading attacker Thayer Hall to an undisclosed injury.
Kentucky, which finished the conference season unbeaten, swept Auburn (12-16, 5-13) as Brooke Morgan led with eight kills, hitting .462. Anna Stevenson led Auburn with 10 kills.
Florida swept South Carolina as Paige Hammons continues to sparkle on offense in the continued absence of Hall. Hammons had 13 kills, a dig and four blocks, one solo. Brittany McLean led South Carolina with 12 kills.
It was all Stony Brook (21-8) this season as the Seawolves — who have won 17 matches in a row — took the regular-season title (going 14-0) and then the tournament and the AE automatic bid.
No. 21 UCF (27-3) dominated the league, finishing 18-0 to win the automatic bid. The Knights will be joined in the NCAA Tournament by Cincinnati (25-7).
FGCU (26-6) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
Dayton (23-8) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
No. 9 Creighton (28-4) and No. 16 Marquette (26-6) both hope to be top-16 NCAA seeds. Creighton beat Marquette for the third time this season, this time in the tourney final 26-28, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21. Jaali Winters and Taryn Kloth led with 19 kills each. Winters had two assists, two blocks and 17 digs, and Kloth had two aces, two blocks and a dig. Allie Barber led Marquette with 20 kills, a dig and a block. Hope Werch had 14 kills, an ace and eight digs.
High Point (21-9) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
NAU (26-8) won its third league title with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-17 sweep of Idaho (23-8) in Saturday night’s conference-tourney final. The Lumberjacks, who went to the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and 2015, got 15 kills from Kaylie Jorgenson, who hit .344 and had an assist, 16 digs and a block. Ryann Davis added 11 kills. Sarah Sharp led Idaho with 12 kills, three digs and four blocks.
No. 14 Cal Poly (25-2) won the regular-season title and the automatic bid that goes with it. The big question for the league is if second-place Hawai’i (18-8) gets in, but the Rainbow Wahine appear to be a long shot.
Colonial Athletic Association
Hofstra (25-7) won the league tournament and the automatic bid. The team it beat in the final, James Madison (22-7), has a very slim hope for an at-large bid.
Rice (24-6) ran away with the league and swept the tournament for the automatic bid.
Green Bay (20-10) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
Yale (19-4) was first in after it won the regular-season championship and the bid. The Bulldogs have been off since November 10.
Iona (20-7) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
Eastern Michigan (21-13) won the league tournament and the automatic bid. See our interview with coach Kimi Olson about her program’s first NCAA trip.
Howard (20-10) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
Northern Iowa (24-9) did it again, although Illinois State (25-7) will also get a bid. Northern Iowa beat the Redbirds 25-16, 25-22, 28-26, 25-22 Saturday to win the program’s 17th MVC tournament title.
Piper Thomas led with 24 kills, hitting .478, and had three assists, two blocks and two digs. Jaydlin Seehase had 16 kills, four digs and two blocks, and Karlie Taylor had 15 kills, two solo blocks and 16 digs. Kaylee Martin led Illinois State with 15 kills, Ali Line had 12 to go with three digs and four blocks, and Lexi Wallen had 11 kills.
Colorado State (23-7) won the league regular-season title and the automatic bid.
Bryant (22-12) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
Murray State (22-9) upset Austin Peay (27-5) in the league tournament final to win the automatic bid.
Navy (23-8) won the league tournament and the automatic bid and will make the program’s first NCAA appearance.
Samford (19-14) upset ETSU (28-6) in the conference tourney final and got the league’s automatic spot, but ETSU will get an an-large bid.
It was all Stephen F. Austin (32-2) this season. The Ladyjacks won the regular-season title and the tournament and are riding a 29-match winning streak, longest in the nation.
Alabama State (23-17) won the league tournament and the automatic bid.
South Dakota (21-9) upset Denver (27-2) in the tournament final to win the automatic bid, but Denver should be an at-large selection.
Texas State (26-6) dominated, going 15-1 in the regular season before winning the tournament. And the MVP was Volleyball Baton Rouge-product Madison Daigle, a senior middle.
NM State (24-7) won the WAC for the ninth time under coach Mike Jordan with a 19-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-17 win Saturday over Utah Valley (19-13). Savannah Davison led with 16 kills, 18 digs and a block. Tatyana Battle had 14 kills, 16 digs and five blocks and Megan Hart had 13 kills, hit .414, and had three digs and 10 blocks. Kazna Tarawhiti led Utah Valley — which upset top-seeded UT Rio Grande Valley in the semifinals — with 12 kills, eight digs, two aces and two blocks.
This is another nervous league. BYU held the No. 1 spot almost all season but then outside hitter McKenna Miller got hurt. The Cougars (27-1) dominated the WCC at 17-1, but the loss came in the last-regular season match to Loyola Marymount, which might have cost BYU a top-four seed. The NCAA looks at late-season results and takes into consideration injuries and BYU fell to a clear fifth in the RPI.
Pepperdine (21-8) is a sure bet for an at-large bid, Saint Mary’s (19-9) is probable, but San Diego (16-12) could be on the outside looking in.
The following criteria shall be employed by a governing sports committee in selecting participants for NCAA championships competition [Bylaw 31.3.3; Criteria for Selection of Participants]:
— Won-lost record;
— Strength of schedule; and
— Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships.
In addition to Bylaw 31.3.3, the Women’s Volleyball Committee has received approval from the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet to consider the following criteria in the selection of at-large teams for the volleyball championship (not necessarily in priority order):
— Rating Percentage Index.
— Head-to-head competition.
— Results versus common opponents.
— Significant wins and losses.
If the evaluation of the primary criteria does not result in a decision, the secondary criteria will be reviewed. All the criteria listed will be evaluated.
— Late-season performance (last 10 games).
— Eligibility and availability of student-athletes.
— Location of contest.
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