The Boise State volleyball team will make its NCAA Tournament debut against Western Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. MT Friday in Stanford, Calif. All tournament matches are available on ESPN3.
Boise State (25-6, 16-2 Mountain West) enters nationals on a 14-match winning streak, including 12 by sweep. The Hilltoppers (30-2) have won 21 straight matches since a five-set loss to No. 9 national seed Michigan State on Sept. 10. WKU went 14-0 in Conference USA play and won the conference tournament Nov. 20.
The Broncos earned their first NCAA berth by winning the Mountain West championship last week. Boise State is one of three teams making its first appearance, along with Big Sky champion North Dakota (26-9) and WAC tournament winner Texas-Rio Grande Valley (21-13).
The BSU-WKU winner meets the winner of Friday’s late match between No. 6 seed Stanford (21-7), the third-place team from the Pac-12, and Summit League champion Denver (23-8) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Stanford was ninth in last week’s RPI ranking, while Western Kentucky was 15th, Boise State 29th and Denver 107th.
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Colorado State (21-8, 15-3 MW; vs. Kentucky in Seattle) and UNLV (23-7, 12-6; vs. Utah in Provo) also will represent the Mountain West.
The 64-team tournament bracket, with 32 automatic qualifiers and 32 at-large teams, was unveiled Sunday night on ESPNU. First- and second-round matches are played at the campus sites of the tournament’s 16 seeded teams Thursday through Saturday.
At each campus site, four teams will compete in single-elimination competition. The 16 teams that advance from each site will play in the regional rounds Dec. 9-10 at campus sites. The highest remaining seeds in each quadrant of the bracket will be the regional hosts. The Final Four is Dec. 15-17 in Columbus, Ohio.
“I think the NCAA Tournament is going to be a blast, but a coaching friend of mine told me it goes fast,” Boise State coach Shawn Garus said. “We need to get our kids honed in on specifics, because it’s one-and-done. We need to be really sharp and ready for that first opponent, or we’re going to be out really early.”
Defending NCAA champion Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Texas took the top four overall seeds. Kansas, Stanford, North Carolina, Washington, Michigan State, UCLA, Florida, Michigan, BYU, Kansas State, Missouri and Penn State earned the fifth through 16th seeds and are hosts for the first and second rounds.