Provo • BYU’s women’s volleyball team has been disrespected by the NCAA Tournament selection committee so many times before that the latest apparent snub — a No. 13 seed for a team ranked No. 7 in the latest AVCA poll — doesn’t even raise an eyebrow in Provo.
Besides, unfavorable seeds didn’t stop the Cougars from advancing to the Sweet 16 the past five seasons. Why should it now?
All 16 seeded teams get to host the first two rounds of the tournament, making the order of seeding not quite as important as in other NCAA sports, such as basketball.
BYU (28-2) plays host to American (26-7), the Patriot League champion, at 7 p.m. Friday at Smith Fieldhouse in a first-round match. Oregon and Kennesaw State will tangle at 4 p.m. Friday. First-round winners will play at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round.
Whichever team emerges victorious Saturday likely will travel to No. 4 seed Kentucky for a Sweet 16 match (regionals), assuming the Wildcats don’t get upset this weekend. If they do, the regional semifinals and finals will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed in the quadrant.
This year’s NCAA women’s volleyball national semifinals and finals are in Kansas City, Mo.
The Cougars are trying to get back to the national championship match for the first time since 2014 after making that improbable run despite entering the tournament unseeded.
Senior middle blocker Cosy Burnett said this team, which tied San Diego for the West Coast Conference championship, has all the ingredients to make another long run.
“We have a special team,” Burnett told BYUtv. “We have been there before, and there are a handful of us who have gone even further, and we all really want it. We are all in. There isn’t one person who is unsure. … It has been a great run, and I think we can do something really cool.”
American won’t be a pushover, however. The Eagles have won 18 straight matches and have had plenty of NCAA Tournament success, winning three postseason matches in the last four seasons. Aleksandra Kazala leads American’s attack and averages 4.77 kills per set.
Oregon, ranked No. 24 by the AVCA, went 10-10 in the Pac-12, 17-11 overall, and placed eighth in that league. Kennesaw State (21-4) is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Cougars are led by three all-WCC players — junior Roni Jones-Perry and sophomores McKenna Miller and Mary Lake. Lake was named the WCC Defender of the Year, and middle blocker Kennedy Redding earned WCC Freshman of the Year honors.
Burnett ranks No. 26 nationally in blocks per set (1.37) and No. 30 in total blocks (142).
Jones-Perry is fifth in points per set (5.50), seventh in kills per set (4.75) and seventh in total points (572.5).
BYU, coached by Heather Olmstead, is 80-3 at home since 2011 and 52-1 in WCC play during that stretch.
Friday’s first-round matches
At Smith Fieldhouse, Provo
Kennesaw State (21-4) v. Oregon (17-11), 4 p.m.
BYU (28-2) vs. American (26-7), 7 p.m.