For the first time since 2005, seven Big 12 volleyball squads have earned spots in the 2011 NCAA Championship, with Big 12 champion Texas' No. 1 national seed leading the group. Joining the Longhorns are league runner-up and No. 4 seed Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma and 16th-seeded Texas A&M.
The Big 12's seven selections and three national seeds ties for the second-most among all conferences. This is the third time the Conference has sent seven teams to the postseason (2004 & ‘05). The Big 12 represented with eight teams in 2001. It also marks the third-straight season with five or more league squads making the field.
Overall the Big 12 has earned 97 bids in 16 years of competition. The Conference is 145-89 all-time in NCAA postseason play, a winning mark of .620. The Big 12 is 23-4 in the first round of NCAA play over the past five years.
Along with Texas' No. 1 seed, Iowa State earned a No. 4 seed and Texas A&M a No. 16 seed. All three teams will host first and second rounds. The Longhorns will face Texas State (27-7) in Austin, while the Aggies will take on Lipscomb (20-10) in College Station. Both teams are in the Lexington Regional.
The Cyclones will open against Milwaukee (25-4) in Ames as part of the Minneapolis Regional. Baylor and Missouri are in the Gainesville Regional. The Bears will face Michigan (20-12) in Palo Alto, Calif., while the Tigers face off with Florida (24-5) in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Oklahoma and Kansas State are in the Honolulu Regional with Tulsa (27-6) serving as the Sooner's first round opponent in Los Angeles, Calif. The Wildcats take on Wichita State (20-10) in Lincoln, Neb.
Per the established bracketing principles, the top 16 seeds were provided the opportunity to host. In addition, first- and second-round conference matchups were avoided and team pairings were determined by geographical proximity.
First- and second-round matches will be played at 16 campus sites, including Iowa State, Texas and Texas A&M. Teams winning both matches will move on to regional play Dec. 9 and 10. The pre-determined regional sites will be in Gainesville, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lexington, Ky.; and Minneapolis, Minn.. All regional semifinal games will be shown on ESPN3.com while regional final games will air on ESPNU.
The regional winners will advance to the semifinals and final hosted by UT-San Antonio and San Antonio Sports at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 15 and 17. Both national semifinal games as well as the championship game will be telecast by ESPN2.
FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
Thursday, Dec. 1
Kansas State vs. Wichita State, 4:30 p.m. - Lincoln, Neb. - Honolulu Regional
Lipscomb at No. 16 Texas A&M, 4:30 p.m. - College Station, Texas - Lexington Regional
Friday, Dec. 2
Missouri vs. Florida, 5:00 p.m. - Cedar Falls, Iowa - Gainesville Regional
Baylor vs. Michigan, 6:30 p.m. - Stanford, Calif. - Gainesville Regional
Texas State at No. 1 Texas, 7:00 p.m. - Austin, Texas - Lexington Regional
Oklahoma vs. Tulsa, 7:00 p.m. - Los Angeles, Calif. - Honolulu Regional
Milwaukee at No. 4 Iowa State, 7:30 p.m. - Ames, Iowa - Minneapolis Regional
Times are listed in CST.
ABOUT THE BIG 12 TEAMS IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
Texas (22-4, 15-1 Big 12) claimed its fifth conference crown this season (1997, 2007-09, ‘11). UT enters postseason play with 28-straight wins at home, the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation. The Longhorns entered the week ranked fifth nationally with an RPI ranking of No. 4.
In 2010, UT appeared in its 28th overall NCAA tournament, defeating 16th-seeded Purdue in the Austin Regional before falling to national champion Penn State in the semifinals. UT has appeared in three-straight NCAA semifinal matches, including a trip to the championship match in 2009. Texas won the 1988 national championship.
Iowa State (22-5, 13-3), who finished second in the Big 12 this season, is making its fifth-straight postseason appearance. The Cyclones have advanced the NCAA field every year since 2006, with six total appearances and a 9-7 record. In addition, Iowa State has advanced to the third round in three of its past five appearances, including a quarterfinal appearance in 2008. The Cyclones, who are ranked second in RPI, lead the league in opponent hitting percentage, digs and service aces.
Texas A&M (22-7, 11-5) will be making its 19th appearance. The Aggies advanced to the postseason from 1993-2005, but after the ‘05 season, their only other appearance was in 2009. TAMU's 22 wins and third-place league finish this season are its best since 2003. The Aggies are 22-18 all-time in NCAA play.
Kansas State (20-10, 9-7) is making its first NCAA appearance since 2008 and 13th overall. The Wildcats finished the 2011 regular season in fourth place, going 7-1 in five-set matches.
Oklahoma (21-11, 8-8) earns its eight overall berth and fifth over the last six years. The Sooners advanced to the third round in 2010 where they lost to eventual national champion Penn State. OU is 8-7 all-time in postseason play and has spent 12 weeks ranked this season.
Missouri (21-12, 7-9), who made eight-straight appearances from 2000-07, is making its second consecutive trip, and 10th overall, to the postseason. The Tigers were one of four league teams to advance to the third round in 2010.
Baylor (18-14, 5-11) notches its fourth appearance. The Bears also participated in 2009, ‘01 and 1999.