PROVO — The No. 7-ranked BYU women's volleyball team earned a No. 13 seed in the 64-team NCAA Tournament, it was announced Sunday night. The tournament seeds the top 16 teams, with those same 16 serving as hosts for the first two rounds of the tournament.
The Cougars will open play Friday in a match versus American, which was champion of the Patriot Conference. The winner will advance to take on either Oregon or Kennesaw State, which square off against each other just prior to BYU's match, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.
“We're excited to be hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said in a press release given by the BYU Athletic Department. “We look forward to opening up the tournament against a very good American team as well as hosting Kennesaw State and Oregon.”
As one of the hosts for the first two rounds, the Cougars will be expected to reach the round of 16, something they're quite used to accomplishing, having advanced past the first two rounds for five straight years. The deepest run came in 2013, when the unseeded Cougars advanced to the NCAA championship match, where they lost to Penn State.
The Cougars (28-2) clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the West Coast Conference Championship, an accomplishment they've managed for four straight seasons. They clinched the championship last Tuesday after defeating visiting Loyola Marymount in straight sets, their fifth consecutive straight set win.
BYU was led through the regular season by Veronica Jones-Perry, who scored a team-high 505 kills on a .280 hitting percentage. Sophomore McKenna Miller was second on the team with 328 kills with senior middle blocker Cosey Burnett adding 237 kills, good for third on the team.
The Cougars featured a relatively young team throughout the regular season, which featured the play of freshmen Kennedy Redding and Taylen Ballard, among others. Playing a big key to the team's overall success was sophomore libero Mary Lake, who had a team-high 474 digs.
Key wins for BYU on the year included a five-set thriller over Utah, which was ranked No. 16 on Sept. 14, and a four-set win over then No. 21-ranked Ohio State on Aug. 26. The Utes received the No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament while the Buckeyes did not receive a bid.
Should the Cougars advance through the first two rounds, they'll likely travel to No. 4 seed Kentucky for regionals. The final two rounds will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, beginning on Dec. 14.