Panthers and Cyclones Earn NCAA Volleyball Bids

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By KCRG Sports

The University of Northern Iowa volleyball (24-9) received a bid to the NCAA volleyball tournament on Sunday. The Panthers will be going up against the Kansas State Wildcats (21-8) in the first round match on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Lincoln, Nebraska. The other match up in Lincoln features Maryland Eastern shore and No. 4 seed Nebraska.

The Panthers will be making their 18th overall NCAA appearance, and this is seventh consecutive season they have made the NCAA tournament. UNI is 13-17 all-time in the NCAA tournament and have advanced to the Sweet 16 on three occasions, most recently in 2002. Last season, the Panthers defeated Niagara (3-0), before falling to Florida (3-1) in the second round.

For the second-straight year, Iowa State will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 15-seed Cyclones (20-7, 13-3 Big 12) will play IPFW (25-6, 12-4 Summit League) on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. CST, following the first round match between North Carolina and California at 5 p.m.

The Mastodons were Summit League Champions this season, powered by 4.30 kills per set from sophomore outside hitter Emily Spencer. Libero Tessa McGill enters postseason digging an average of 6.18 balls per set. The Cyclones and Mastodons have never faced each other before and the Cyclones will be the first ranked opponent for IPFW this season.

The Cyclones are on a 10-match winning streak as they head to their seventh-straight NCAA Tournament under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch and broke a record during the regular season with six wins over top-25 opponents, including defeating No. 3 Texas, 3-2, on senior day. The win over Texas helped vault the Cyclones’ RPI into the top-20, landing at 18th, and helping the squad earn a home court advantage for the third time in four years.

UNC (25-5, 16-4 ACC) and Cal (15-15, 9-11 Pac-12) played each other in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, with the Tarheels advancing in five sets. The Golden Bears eliminated UNC in the second round of the 2010 tournament, winning 3-1.

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