UNI Gets At-Large Berth In NCAA Volleyball Tournament
One day after being swept in the championship match of the Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Tournament, the disappointment turned into jubilation for UNI.
The Panthers learned Sunday evening that they earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
UNI faces Missouri Friday in the first round of the 64-team tournament in Lincoln, Neb. First serve is scheduled for 4:30 PM, followed by Ball State facing host Nebraska (No. 5 overall seed) at 7 PM.
Three Iowans play for Missouri: Junior Kylie Deberg of Hudson, senior Riley Sents of Grundy Center and freshman Kenna Sauer of Ankeny. Sents is the Tigers' starting libero and Deberg is an outside hitter, who just recently was named to the all-Southeast Conference team for the second year in a row. Deberg leads the league in total kills (501), kills per set (4.82), total points (584.0) and points per set (5.62).
For the Panthers (24-10), the battle against Missouri will be a rematch of a regular season meeting. In September, the Tigers (21-7) beat UNI, 3-1, at the Mizzou Invitational in Columbia, Mo.
Friday's meeting will be the 21st all-time between the Panthers and Missouri. UNI leads the all-time series, 11-6-3. The last time UNI played the Tigers was in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, a victory by Missouri in five sets at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls.
This season marks the sixth time the Panthers have received an at-large berth into the tournament, earning bids in 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017. UNI is 2-5 in the NCAA Tournament when earning an at-large bid, winning first-round matches in 2012 and 2017.