Lincoln -- The Nebraska volleyball team will spend the opening weekend of the postseason at home, as the NU Coliseum was chosen as one of 16 sites for NCAA first and second-round play next weekend. Nebraska will make its 28th NCAA Tournament appearance, and will go into NCAAs as the No. 10 overall seed among the 64 teams.
Action begins Friday, Dec. 4, at the NU Coliseum when the Washington State Cougars (18-12) of the Pac-10 Conference take on the Northern Iowa Panthers (30-2) of the Missouri Valley Conference at 4:30 p.m. Nebraska (23-6) will play in the evening’s second match and will take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (20-13) of the Big South Conference beginning at 7 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first match.
Nebraska has never faced Coastal Carolina, as the Chanticleers’ appearance in Lincoln marks the second straight year that the Big South champion has opened the tournament in Lincoln. Nebraska is 4-0-1 all-time against Northern Iowa, as the teams have not met since the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Nebraska has played Washington State only once, a 3-0 sweep in 1988.
The second round will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m., as Friday’s winners will square off for a right to compete in the Omaha Regional the following weekend. Tickets for the first and second rounds in Lincoln will go on sale Monday morning at 8 a.m. on Huskers.com, by calling the NU Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED or in person at the NU Ticket Office. All-session ticket prices are set at $32 (reserved) and $28 (general admission) and include the two first-round games, as well as the second-round matchup between the first-round winners. Both reserved and GA seating will be on sale.
The Huskers enter the NCAA Tournament with a 23-6 record, including a 16-4 Big 12 mark. Nebraska has won its last seven matches – all by sweep and will be making their 28th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The 2009 season marks the 25th time that Lincoln has played host to first and second-round competition. Last year, Nebraska hosted the first and second rounds at the NU Coliseum before advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals in Omaha. Nebraska is 77-24 (.762) in 27 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, ranking second among NCAA schools in wins and winning percentage.
The Huskers were one of six Big 12 schools to qualify for the tournament. In addition to the Huskers, Texas (No. 2) and Iowa State (No. 7) were national seeds, while Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas A&M all advanced to the NCAAs.
NCAA First and Second Round Schedule
Friday, Dec. 4
4:30 p.m. First Round: Northern Iowa (30-2) vs. Washington State (18-12)
7 p.m.* First Round: Nebraska (23-6) vs. Coastal Carolina (20-13)
*- or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the 4:30 p.m. match
Saturday, Dec. 5
5 p.m. Second Round: First-Round Winners
Coach John Cook
On Coastal Carolina
I don’t know a lot about them, but it’s the NCAA tournament and if you want to keep playing, you have to win. As Al Davis says, just win baby, that’s what it is all about this time of year.”
On how big it is to have the first and second rounds in Nebraska
“We have a chance for the next two weekends to play in the state of Nebraska. I think that is something that is a reward for the support our fans show and the hard work of our team and our program. It’s a great opportunity. I know our players will be really excited and there should be a great atmosphere. There are great teams coming into the state of Nebraska. I think it will be one of the most exciting NCAA tournaments for the state of Nebraska in a while.”
On his thoughts on Nebraska’s draw in the tournament
“The draw, with all the Big 12 teams in the same bracket, you can look at it in a couple of ways. Somebody from the Big 12 is likely going to get to go to the Final Four. I like that again, we have to take care of business, we’re going to have our hands full in the first and second rounds. There is a great opportunity to play great teams at home. That is a big thing for us. We want to continue to advance. We have a chance to play the teams that are thinking about the Final Four at home. For us it’s good, I’m not sure about the other teams if they are too excited about that opportunity, to play at the Qwest in front of a sold out crowd. If everything can play out, it’s pretty much guaranteed the Qwest is going to be sold out.”
On how they are feeling now that they know they have the opportunity to get to Omaha
“I just told the team that we did a statistical comparison for the second half of the Big 12 compared to the first and also the second half of the Big 12 last year compared to this year. Right now, the last ten matches, we’ve played at a higher level, much higher than the first half of the Big 12 and much higher than last year’s team. I want this team to start thinking they can accomplish some big things now. They’ve worked hard, pulled themselves out of some early season struggles and are now playing at a very high level. If we can continue to do that, we have a great shot to have a great NCAA tournament.”
On what it will be like to play at home
“We’re really excited to play at home, there is no better place than the Coliseum. I know I wasn’t ready to be done at the Coliseum last night and my team feels the same way. We’re really looking forward to hosting and glad that the teams coming in are going to get a chance to play in front of the crowd.”
On being able to play at home this week
“The first thing I think of is that Kori gets another chance to keep playing. Last night we were kind of focused on that this could be our last chance to play in the Coliseum, but we now find out that we get two more matches. We’re excited and we’re just going to take it one match at a time.”
On how much of an advantage it is to know you have the path
“Coach was talking to us and said we have the advantage because we have a week to prepare. We don’t have to be traveling and worry about flights and we get to sleep in our own bed. I think that is a big advantage to a team that gets to stay at home and stay in their gym.”