Nov. 30, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - For the Tulane University volleyball team, it was a case of what a difference a year makes. After getting snubbed for a postseason bid a year ago, the Green Wave learned they will be traveling to Dayton, Ohio, for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, the NCAA Volleyball Selection Committee announced Sunday night.
Tulane put together a 27-5 overall record in 2008, won the Conference USA regular-season championship with a 15-1 league record and guaranteed itself a spot in the NCAA postseason by sweeping three matches last weekend in the C-USA Tournament. As a result, the NCAA Selection Committee rewarded the Green Wave with the No. 16 national seed and they will take on Tennessee Tech in the opening round on Friday, Dec. 5, in the Frericks Center.
"It is definitely a plus that we are the No. 16 seed," Tulane head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "A couple of years ago, Tulane volleyball was not being mentioned in the same breath as some of these teams. For us to be a seeded team in this tournament is a really good sign. I also think this is a really good draw. The travel is not as intensive. We have already been up to Ohio, we are familiar with the travel distance and the teams that are in our first- and second-round bracket are all very competitive teams. We can fare very well against them if we do what we have done all season, prepare for one match at a time and make sure that we continually improve.
"Every team would love to host, especially us. It has been such a special season for us, but we are not thinking about that anymore. We are thinking about playing Tennessee Tech and putting forth our best version of the team on the floor so that we can be ready."
Tennessee Tech is 19-12 so far in 2008 and earned its postseason bid by winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with a 3-2 win over Murray State back on Nov. 22. The Golden Eagles shared the OVC regular-season crown with Morehead State with identical 14-4 conference records. Tulane is 2-0 all-time against Tennessee Tech, but the two teams have not met since Oct. 12, 1978.
The Broncos and host Flyers will play each other in the first round and the winner of that contest will play the victor of the Tulane/Tennessee Tech match on Saturday, Dec. 6. Times for all three matches are yet to be determined and ticket information is expected to be announced on Monday, Dec. 1.
"We are all so elated for the young ladies, Liz and her staff," Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said. "This is a reward that is well deserved. The overall reaction is that we are pleased with where we are going and who we are matched with, so you can't ask for better than that.
"This is another step toward the overall recovery of the University and the Athletic Department. We were used to this sort of things prior to 2005, so it's nice to be getting back to this sort of scenario. It's exciting to see us moving back to where we were. I'm just tickled to death for Liz and her team."
Tulane is one of two teams from the state of Louisiana to earn a bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, joining LSU (18-9) which will travel to Los Angeles to take on No. 14 national seed UCLA (20-10) on Dec. 5. The Green Wave are also one of three C-USA programs to earn an NCAA postseason bid as UAB (26-7) will travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on Missouri State (23-12) and Rice (23-7) will head to Austin, Texas, for a showdown with Wichita State (29-1).
The three bids for C-USA marks the first time the league had multiple teams advance to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 when Cincinnati and Louisville - now members of the Big East - earned bids. It also marks the most league teams to earn postseason bids since 2002 when Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and South Florida all went to the NCAAs.
"It is good to see Conference USA back to being a multiple-bid league because I really do believe that is where it should be," Kritza said. "Depending on what you look at, we are the top five or six conference in the league and we should have three teams in. And the teams that were selected - us, UAB and Rice - are all very deserving. All of the teams are clearly in the Top 64 teams in the country and I think we will go on to represent Conference USA very, very well. I am just pleased to see that the Selection Committee saw things in the same light that everyone else did, and I am glad that none of those teams had to go through what we did last year."
The Green Wave have played six of the 64 teams selected to participate in the 2008 NCAA Tournament - Nebraska, Middle Tennessee State, North Dakota State, Ohio, Rice and UAB - and are 5-1 in those matches.
The winner of the Dayton, Ohio, first- and second-round matches will advance to play the winner of the University Park, Penn., first- and second-round matches - which consists of No. 1 national seed Penn State (32-0), Long Island (19-11), Yale (20-5) and Ohio (24-7) - on Dec. 12 on the campus of Penn State University. The winner of that match will advance to the final eight and the winner there moves on to the NCAA Volleyball Championships in Omaha, Neb., from Dec. 18-20.