BYU volleyball: Cougars receive No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament, bye into semis
Provo • As expected, BYU received the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Men's Division I-II Volleyball Tournament and a bye into the semifinals after the Cougars defeated Stanford in straight sets on Saturday night in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament championship match.
The Cougars (21-8) will meet the winner of Tuesday's Stanford-Erskine play-in match on Thursday at 5 p.m. MDT at Gentile Arena on the campus of Loyola-Chicago, which earned the top seed after going 27-1 and winning the MIVA conference tournament title.
The semifinal matches will be live-streamed on NCAA.com and ESPNU will televise the championship match, which is slated for Saturday at 6 p.m. MDT.
BYU defeated Stanford three times this season, but has never faced Erskine, a Christian liberal arts college in Due West, S.C., which won the Carolinas Conference tournament title. The Cardinal received an at-large berth and the No. 3 seed after going 22-8 and winning 13 straight matches before falling to BYU 3-0 in front of 4,367 at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.
Perhaps the biggest surprise coming from the selection committee on Sunday was that Lewis University (23-7) earned the second at-large berth, and not Pepperdine, which tied with BYU for the MPSF regular-season title. It is just the second time in tournament history and first time since 1994 (Ball State) that a non-West Coast school has received an at-large berth.
The tournament has been expanded to six teams this year, instead of four. Lewis lost to Loyola-Chicago 3-1 in the MIVA championship match Saturday night.
Gentile Arena, which is similar in size to Smith Fieldhouse, with a capacity of 4,486, is close to being sold out for the tournament, and is expected to provide the Ramblers with a huge home-crowd advantage. The committee's picking Lewis over Pepperdine means that Loyola-Chicago, which swept BYU 3-0 at home in the first match of the season back in early January, will not have to play an MPSF team until the championship match.
The Ramblers will play the winner of the Lewis-Penn State match in Thursday's second semifinal.
Penn State received an automatic bid, along with Erskine, BYU and Loyola-Chicago, because it won the EIVA conference title.
Twitter: @drewjay NCAA Division I-II Men's Volleyball Tournament
P At Joseph J. Gentile Arena, Chicago
Tuesday's First-Round Matches
No. 3 Stanford (22-8) vs. No. 6 Erskine (21-6), 5 p.m. MDT
No. 4 Lewis (23-7) vs. No. 5 Penn State (24-6), 7 p.m. MDT
Thursday's Semifinal Matches
No. 2 BYU (21-8) vs. Stanford-Erskine winner, 5 p.m. MDT
No. 1 Loyola-Chicago (27-1) vs. Lewis-Penn State winner, 7 p.m.
Saturday's Championship Match
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m. MDT