After dominating conference foe Nebraska in straight sets on Saturday (the program's senior day, honoring Micha Hancock, Nia Grant, Dominique Gonzalez and Lacey Fuller), the 2014 NCAA Women's Volleyball tournament bracket was announced last night. Despite being the #4 team in the nation headed into the tournament, the Nittany Lions were seeded #5 overall, and are part of the Louisville regional.
The quarter of the draw that the Lions are in includes 2014 Big Ten Champion Wisconsin, who drew the #4 overall seed; the Lions last beat Wisconsin in Madison on September 24 to kick off the conference season in straight sets, and were the Badgers' only conference loss. Due to the tricky conference schedule, Wisconsin and Penn State only faced each other one time this season; PSU lost twice in conference play, to Nebraska in four sets in Lincoln, and a shocker to Illinois at home in Rec Hall in October.
As you may recall, last year Hancock and company took down the Badgers in the 2013 National Championship match; it was the first time the title game featured two Big Ten teams. This year, only six Big Ten teams made the field after last year's record-setting eight; perhaps the biggest surprise was this year's disappointing finish by the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are one of the four regional hosts of the tournament but failed to reach the field under USA Women's Team coach Hugh McCutcheon. Three of this year's six squads are in the Lexington region, and none are in the Minneapolis region.
Penn State will host the first two rounds in Rec Hall. Their first opponent will be Siena, which won the MAAC conference; they'll square off on Friday, at 7:30. If they win that round, next they'll face the winner of the Dayton-American match, with first serve in the second round taking place at 7:30 on Saturday.