ST. LOUIS — For the 16th time in league history, at least two Missouri Valley Conference volleyball teams have been selected as part of the field of 64 to play for the 2019 NCAA national title.
MVC Tournament champion Illinois State will be joined by regular season champion and at-large selection Northern Iowa, it was announced Sunday night. It is the 12th time in the last 14 years that the MVC has placed multiple teams into the NCAA Tourney. Since 2007, the Valley has received 34 bids into the 64-team field, trailing only the Pac 12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC & West Coast Conferences.
First and second-round matches will be played Dec. 5-7 at 16 campus sites. Teams winning both matches will continue to regional play Dec. 13-14. Regionals for the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship will be held at four non-predetermined campus sites, which will be announced on Dec. 8. At each site, four teams will compete in single-elimination regional semifinal competition.
The regional winners will advance to the national semifinals and championship final hosted by Duquesne/SPORTS Pittsburgh on Dec. 19-21 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The national semifinal matches will broadcast on ESPN, and the championship match will broadcast on ESPN2.
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UNI (24-10) is making its 23rd overall NCAA Tournament appearance, and earned the program's sixth at-large berth, returning to the postseason for the fifth-straight season. The Panthers will take on Missouri (21-7) Friday at 4:30 p.m. in a first-round match in Lincoln, Nebraska. Other teams in the pod include host and No. 5 national seed Nebraska (25-4) and Ball State (20-11).
The Panthers are 15-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and have advanced to the Sweet 16 on three occasions, most recently in 2002.
Illinois State (22-11) will be making its 15th overall NCAA Tournament appearance and first repeat appearance since the 1997-98 seasons. The Redbirds will take on No. 4 national seed Wisconsin (22-6) Friday at 7 p.m. in a first-round match in Madison, Wisconsin. Other teams in the pod include UCLA (18-11) and Notre Dame (19-9).
The Redbirds are 3-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and have advanced to the second round on three occasions, most recently in 2014.