BYU Receives NCAA Invite

Senior Lexi Brown Patterson and her teammates can celebrate BYU's 22nd NCAA Tournament invitation in the 25-year existence of the annual championship. BYU earned a 25-3 record this season in Cougar coach Jason Watson's first season. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Cougars Open Friday in Los Angeles against Pepperdine

PROVO -- For the 22nd time in the 25-year existence of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship, the BYU women's volleyball team has qualified for the annual postseason tournament. The No. 21-ranked Cougars received one of 33 at-large selections Sunday after earning the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and achieving a 25-3 overall record.

"We feel very good about getting back to the NCAA Tournament," first-year BYU coach Jason Watson said. "BYU has a rich history of competing in the NCAA Championship. Our athletes worked extremely hard this season to put us in a position to continue the legacy our program has achieved over the years."

The Cougars will play Pepperdine University (17-11, 10-4 West Coast Conference) Friday at 5 p.m. PST (6 p.m. MST) in a first-round matchup hosted by the University of Southern California at the Lyon Center in Los Angeles. The winner of the BYU-Pepperdine match will play Saturday night (time TBA) against the winner of the No. 12-seeded USC and UC Santa Barbara contest slated for 7 p.m. PST Friday. For ticket information, please check byucougars.com as information will be posted as it becomes available.

"Pepperdine is a team that has competed well this year and is very deserving of its selection," Watson said of a Wave program that tied for second in the West Coast Conference, which qualified five teams. "We have a lot of work to do between now and Friday, but we look forward to the challenge."

Friday's match will be the 18th meeting between BYU and Pepperdine and their second NCAA Tournament matchup. BYU holds a 12-5 advantage in the overall series, including a first-round victory over the Waves in Provo during the 1987 NCAA Tournament. Cougar coach Jason Watson has faced Pepperdine twice before in the NCAA Tournament as an assistant coach. He helped guide Arkansas State to the NCAAs in 1999 before losing to the Waves in first round at Pepperdine. The next season, he helped Kansas State defeat Pepperdine in the second round, again in Malibu, to advance to the Regional Semifinals.

BYU played against seven schools this year that qualified for the 64-team field, earning a 7-3 record against those teams, including a five-game victory at No. 13-seeded Ohio State. BYU also defeated tournament teams Duke (3-2), Kansas (3-1), Nevada (3-2) and Utah State (3-1). BYU's three losses this year came to MWC qualifiers Colorado State and Utah, splitting with the Rams and going 1-2 against the Utes.

BYU is the 11th-winningest team in NCAA Tournament history with a 27-21 record. BYU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 2003 when the Cougars knocked of a 30-4 New Mexico State team in the first round in Honolulu before losing to No. 2-seed Hawaii on the Wahine's home floor in the second round.

The Cougars have advanced to the second round in 17 of their prior 21 appearances, with a 12-4 first-round record and five automatic byes. The Cougars have made 14 Sweet Sixteen appearances in their 21 bids and advanced to eight Elite Eight Regional Finals. BYU's top finish in the NCAA Tournament came in 1993 when the Cougars advanced to the NCAA Final Four before losing in the national semifinals to Penn State.

Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification to this year's event, with the remaining 33 slots being filled with at-large selections. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were Nebraska, Penn State, Washington and Arizona. Team pairings were determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during the first and second rounds.

BYU is one of three MWC teams to receive an invitation to this year's NCAA Tournament, joined by MWC Tournament Champion Utah and Colorado State. The Big 12 Conference led all conferences with seven teams selected, while the Big Ten Conference, Pacific-10 Conference and Southeastern Conference each landed six teams. Three teams, Penn State, Stanford and UC Santa Barbara, have earned bids to all 25 championships. BYU is tied for ninth in number of total appearances with 22. Four teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: State University of New York at Binghamton, Virginia Commonwealth University, Jacksonville State University and University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

In the 25-year history of the championship, nine schools have been crowned champion, eight of which are in this year's bracket, including the defending champion Stanford. Past winners making the field are Stanford (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04), Hawaii (1982, 83, 87), Long Beach State (1989, 93, 98), UCLA (1984, 90, 91), Nebraska (1995 and 2000), USC (1981, 2002, 03), Penn State (1999) and Texas (1988).

First- and second-round matches will be played at 16 campus sites, including MWC hosts Utah and Colorado State. A list of the first-round matchups follows, with tournament seedings and overall records listed in parenthesis.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA REGIONAL

December 2-3 at Stanford

(5) Stanford (25-5) vs. Nevada (18-12)

Santa Clara (23-4) vs. Sacramento State (26-8)

December 2-3 at Southern California

Pepperdine (17-11) vs. Brigham Young (25-3)

UC Santa Barbara (21-8) vs. (12) Southern California (16-10)

December 2-3 at Ohio State

(13) Ohio State (21-8) vs. Marshall (26-5)

Ohio (31-2) vs. Alabama (23-10)

December 2-3 at Utah

Utah (22-8) vs. Loyola Marymount (19-10)

Utah State (21-12) vs. (4) Arizona (22-5)

OMAHA, NEBRASKA REGIONAL

December 2-3 at Nebraska

(1) Nebraska (28-1) vs. Alabama A&M (15-11)

American (25-9) vs. Duke (23-7)

December 2-3 at UCLA

(16) UCLA (18-10) vs. Kansas (15-14)

Long Beach State (25-6) vs. San Diego (22-5)

December 2-3 at Louisville

(9) Louisville (29-2) vs. Western Kentucky (31-2)

Kentucky (17-11) vs. Maryland (27-4)

December 1-2 at Florida

Kansas State (20-10) vs. Florida A&M (22-5)

Florida Atlantic (29-2) vs. (8) Florida (30-2)

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS REGIONAL

December 2-3 at Colorado State

(3) Washington (26-1) vs. Siena (20-11)

Colorado (15-12) vs. Colorado State (20-8)

December 2-3 at North Carolina

(14) Purdue (23-8) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (22-11)

College of Charleston (30-1) vs. North Carolina (23-9)

December 2-3 at Wisconsin

(11) Wisconsin (23-6) vs. Loyola (Illinois) (13-17)

Valparaiso (27-7) vs. California (18-10)

December 1-2 at Notre Dame

Northwestern (19-11) vs. Texas A&M (16-13)

Dayton (24-10) vs. (6) Notre Dame (28-3)

STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA REGIONAL

December 2-3 at Texas

(7) Hawaii (25-6) vs. Texas State (17-14)

Texas (23-4) vs. LSU (21-7)

December 2-3 at Missouri

Arkansas (20-11) vs. St. Mary's (California) (19-9)

Missouri State (24-8) vs. (10) Missouri (22-4)

December 2-3 at Tennessee

Minnesota (24-7) vs. Winthrop (28-5)

Jacksonville State (19-10) vs. (15) Tennessee (21-8)

December 2-3 at Penn State

Cornell (19-5) vs. Long Island (25-13)

Binghamton (20-11) vs. (2) Penn State (29-2)

Teams winning both matches will move on to regional play Dec. 9 and 10. The pre-determined regional sites are Palo Alto, California; Omaha, Nebraska; State College, Pennsylvania; and College Station, Texas. The regional winners will advance to the semifinals and final hosted by University of Texas at San Antonio at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Dec. 15 and 17.

For more information about the championship, log on to www.ncaasports.com.