Last night was Selection Sunday for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship tournament, which will culminate with the Final Four in San Antone (last time I went through I took three broads home), and the ladies of Penn State are sitting in a nice position with a regional No. 2 seed.
Slightly different from the men's basketball version, only the top 16 teams in the country are ranked, as opposed to the 16 teams within each region being assigned a seed. Penn State enters the tournament as the eighth-ranked team in the country, and will face off against Big South champion Liberty on Friday night at 7:00 pm at Rec Hall. Should the Lions win that match, they will face the winner of the Delaware/American matchup on Saturday at 7:30 pm at Rec Hall.
Despite a strong 2011, the ladies did not take home the Big Ten crown this year for the first time since 2002. New kid on the block Nebraska won their first Big Ten conference crownin just their first year, not unexpected given Nebraska's strong volleyball background. In all, the Big Ten placed eight teams in the Championship tournament, cementing their place as the SEC football of women's volleyball.
Penn State's road to their fifth consecutive national championship will be tough, but manageable. With two home matches against lesser competition, you can pretty much pencil the Nittany Lions into the Sweet 16 and a trip to Lexington on December 9. Their opponents in the third and fourth rounds, should they make it that far, would most likely be UCLA and Texas, respectively. From there, Purdue and Iowa State are the highest seeds in the "bottom left" bracket and thus most likely to make the trip to San Antonio on December 15. The national championship match will take place on December 17, and will air live on ESPN2.
For coverage throughout the tournament, follow DigNittanyVolleyball as well as checking back here.