NCAA notes: Brrrr … DII gets under way in South Dakota Thursday

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Angelo State setter Meghan Parker has had a great freshman season and has the Belles in the NCAA round of eight for the first time/Angelo State photo

VolleyballMag.com‘s corporate headquarters, using the term loosely, is split between my home in Baton Rouge and Ed Chan’s in San Diego.

It’s colder than normal this week in Louisiana and I’ve actually worn a jacket. Where Ed lives, well, he’s played beach volleyball this week.

I’m telling you that because later I’ll have a story later talking about the AVCA Convention and more with AVCA director Kathy DeBoer, who is on her way to the NCAA Division II championships.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Where it’s supposed to warm up on Thursday to the high teens.

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NCAA DII Championship

Unlike Division I, eight teams gather all in the same place, in this case at the arena called the Sanford Pentagon, for quarterfinals Thursday, semifinals Friday and the final Saturday.

They re-seeded once the tourney gets to the final eight. So Thursday’s matches have:

Top-seeded Concordia St. Paul (Minnesota) playing No. 8 American International (Massachusetts) and No. 4 Wheeling Jesuit (West Virginia) vs. No. 5 Lewis (Illinois) on one side of the bracket;

And on the other side, No. 2 Palm Beach Atlantic (Florida) against No. 7 South Carolina Aiken and No. 3 Angelo State (Texas) facing No. 6 Alaska-Anchorage.

Concordia, which won seven titles in a row from 2007-2013, is 32-2 and has six in a row in the postseason — three matches in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Tournament and three more to win the NCAA Central Region Tournament — and has won 15 in a row overall.

American is in the round of 8 for the first time ever. The Yellow Jackets are 28-6.

The defending-champion Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals are a whopping 41-2, while Lewis is 28-7. Wheeling Jesuit won the Atlantic Region and in doing so gave coach Christy Benner her 500th career victory. It is the sixth year in a row for the Cardinals to make the round of eight. Jesuit, which went 16-0 in the Mountain East Conference, lost back-to-back matches on Sept. 10 — interestingly against Concordia and Angelo State — and has won 36 in a row since.

Lewis won the Midwest Regional, the first time for the Flyers. Lewis was 17-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Palm Beach Atlantic, which lost in last year’s title match to Wheeling Jesuit, is 31-3. The Sailfish opened the season with losses to Lewis, SW Minnesota State and Augustana and haven’t lost since. South Carolina-Aiken is 31-4 and has advanced this far for the first time. For that matter, it had never won a set in NCAA play before.

Angelo State is 34-3. The Belles, who won the Lone Star Conference, are in the round of eight for the first time under coach Chuck Waddington and will play Alaska Anchorage (32-2).  UAA won the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference Championship and the West Regional.

All the DII matches will be streamed live on NCAA.com, where can also go to get scores and updates.

NCAA Division I round of 16

Here’s another look at the schedule. The first-round regional matches are Friday and the finals are Saturday, all four one after another and all on ESPNU.

Nebraska Regional

No. 1 Nebraska (29-2) vs. No. 16 Penn St. (24-9), 11 a.m., ESPNU

No. 8 Washington (28-4) vs. Arizona (20-14), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3

Saturday’s final 3 p.m, ESPNU

Wisconsin Regional

No. 3 Wisconsin (27-4) vs. Ohio St. (22-12), 1 p.m., ESPNU

No. 6 Stanford (23-7)  vs. Florida St. (26-5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3

Saturday’s final 5 p.m., ESPNU

Texas Regional

No. 4 Texas (27-4) vs. No. 13 BYU (29-3), 3 p.m., ESPNU

No. 12 Michigan (24-10) vs. Creighton (28-6), 5:30 p.m., ESPN3

Saturday’s final 7 p.m, ESPNU                          

Minnesota Regional

No. 2 Minnesota (27-4)  vs. No. 15 Missouri (27-5), 7:15 p.m., ESPN3

No. 7 North Carolina (29-3) vs. No. 10 UCLA (26-6), 9:45 p.m., ESPNU

Saturday’s final 9 p.m., ESPNU

We will have a comprehensive breakdown of all eight Friday matches here on Thursday. One last note about the weather: The weather.com 10-day forecast for Columbus shows a  high of 18 degrees next Wednesday, when most people arrive for the NCAA Championship and AVCA Convention, and Thursday, the night of the national semifinals. Brrrr ….

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