Volleyball Returns to NCAA Tournament
For the second time in as many years, head volleyball coach Craig Skinner will lead his team to the NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid in the 64-team field. The Wildcats will face Ohio (28-4) on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility in West Lafayette, Ind.
A record-breaking seven Southeastern Conference teams received an NCAA berth. Joining UK in the 2006 tournament are Florida, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The previous record was six, which was set a year ago.
“I’m very excited for our team and for our players to return to the NCAA tournament,” said Skinner. “The Southeastern Conference has earned a lot of respect over the course of the year to get seven teams in the tournament. We’re just really looking forward to getting prepared in practice this week to play in the tournament.”
Kentucky (18-11, 11-9 SEC) earned an at-large bid after finishing fourth in the SEC standings this season. The 18 season wins, 11 conference victories and fourth-place finish are all the highest by any Wildcat team since the 1993 season.
Ohio went 16-0 in conference play and won its fourth Mid-American Conference title this season. The Bobcats had won 21 straight matches before falling to Louisville, 3-1, on Nov. 25 in their regular season finale. This is the ninth NCAA appearance for the Bobcats.
The Wildcats and Bobcats have met four times previously with Kentucky holding a 3-1 edge in the all-time series. The two last met on Sept. 20, 2003, at the New Mexico Invitational with Ohio winning that match by a score of 3-0.
The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were No. 1 the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; No. 2 Stanford University; No. 3 Pennsylvania State University; and No. 4 University of California, Los Angeles.
The SEC, Pacific-10 Conference, and the Big Ten Conference led all conferences with seven teams selected. The Big 12 Conference landed six teams and four conferences have three teams represented in the bracket -- the West Coast Conference, Big West Conference, Mountain West Conference and Big East Conference. Three teams, Penn State, Stanford and California, Santa Barbara, have earned bids to all 26 championships. Five teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: Saint Louis, UAB, St. John’s, Ole Miss, and Belmont.
In the 26-year history of the championship, ten schools have been crowned champion, nine of which are in this year’s bracket, including the defending champion University of Washington.