June 4, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

UNK Headed to NCAA Tournament

Kearney, Neb. – The 12th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team is in the NCAA Tournament for a 23rd straight season and will battle 3rd-ranked Concordia-St. Paul in the first round of the Central Regional this weekend in Wayne. The 64-team NCAA Tournament field — eight schools from each of D2 II’s eight regions — was announced tonight. The complete bracket is available HERE.

The Central Regional will either be Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday; times are also TBA.

The Lopers (28-5) were ranked fifth in the most recent region rankings but fell two spots to the seventh seed, despite reaching the MIAA Tournament finals. Both Washburn and St. Cloud State had “Cinderella” runs in the MIAA and NSIC Tournaments, respectively, to move ahead of UNK.

The CSP Golden Bears (26-5) fell to SCSU in the NSIC Tourney finals earlier today. Where the Lopers have lost three times to Washburn, CU has lost three times to Wayne. Last year in the second round of the NCAA’s in Warrensburg, Mo., the Golden Bears beat the Lopers in five. They are now 4-1 all-time against the Lopers in the “Big Dance.” 

The UNK/CU winner takes on either Minnesota-Duluth or Washburn. The eight region winners advance to the Elite Eight, held this year December 1-3 in Seattle. The season has been moved up two weeks due to the D2 “Fall Festival” in Washington.

UNK is 33-25 all-time in the NCAA’s, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2019, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1996 and 1995. The Lopers were National Runners up in 2019 and 2005. Finally, the 23-year NCAA run trails only the University of Tampa as the Spartans have made the “Big Dance” the past 26 years.

The Central Region is far and away the best in the country as it features even of the nation’s Top 12 teams. The Top 25 squads left out this year are Southwest Minnesota State (7th), Central Oklahoma (21st), Central Missouri (29th) and Sioux Falls (31st).   Below are the seeds for the regional, along with national rankings as of Nov. 9, and record to date.
Seed    National Rank/School/Record … Bid
1.            #2 Wayne State (29-2) At-Large

2.            #3 Concordia-St. Paul (26-5) At-Large

3.            #4 Minnesota-Duluth (26-4) At-Large

4.            #10 Northwest Missouri State (24-7) … At-Large

5.            #9 St. Cloud State (26-5) …. Automatic bid from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conf.

6.            #20 Washburn (25-7) …. Automatic bid from the MIAA

7.           #12 UNK (28-5) …. At-Large

8.           #24 Harding (30-1) … Automatic bid from the Great American Conf.

Source: Regional Sports