Lopers Host Central Regional for First Time in Seven Years; Look to Break NCAA Losing Streak
KEARNEY – The third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team is in the NCAA Tournament for a 20th straight season and will battle the Harding University (Ark.) Bison in the first round of the Central Regional on Thursday, November 15, at the Health & Sports Center.
The 64-team NCAA Tournament field, eight schools from each of Division II’s eight regions, was announced Sunday. This is the sixth time in school history UNK has hosted an NCAA Regional (1995, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2011). Including the 2005 Elite Eight, the Lopers are 12-3 all-time in NCAA home matches. See the complete schedule below. Ticket information will be posted soon at www.lopertickets.com.
UNK is 27-22 all-time in the NCAA’s, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2005, 2004, 2003, 1996 and 1995. The Lopers reached the regional finals on four other occasions but is currently riding a six-match NCAA losing streak. The last NCAA win came in the second round of the 2012 regional.
The Lopers’ 20-year NCAA run trails only the University of Tampa (1996-present). The Spartans have now made the “Big Dance” 23 straight years.
The Central Region features Concordia-St. Paul, winners of nine of the last 11 national titles, and seven other nationally-ranked teams. The Top 25 team left out of the regional this year is MIAA member Central Oklahoma (No. 16).
The top-seeded Lopers (32-3) and eighth-seeded Bison (27-5), regular season and tournament champions of the Great American Conference (GAC), have never met on the volleyball court. Harding is 1-2 against the current Top 25, beating #22 Texas A & M-Commerce in five sets in its season-opener.
The UNK/HU winner takes on either CU or Southwest Minnesota State. The eight region winners advance to the Elite Eight, held this year November 29-December 1 in Pittsburg, Pa., as part of the “Division II Fall Festival.”
Below are the seeds for the regional, along with national rankings as of Nov. 5, and record to date.
Seed National Rank/School/Record … Bid
1. # 3 Nebraska-Kearney (33-2) …. Automatic bid from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association
2. # 4 Minnesota-Duluth (27-5) …. Automatic bid from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
3. # 10 Washburn (29-4) … At-Large
4. # 8 Concordia-St. Paul (22-8) …. At-Large
5. #7 Southwest Minnesota State (23-8) … At-Large
6. # 5 Northern State (26-4) …. At-Large
7. #11 Central Missouri (25-7) …. At-Large
8. Harding (27-5) … Automatic bid from the Great American Conference
Thursday, Nov. 15
Noon – No. 3 Washburn vs. No. 6 Northern State
2:30 p.m. – No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 7 Central Missouri
5 p.m. – No. 4 Concordia-St. Paul vs. No. 5 SW Minnesota State
7:30 p.m. – No. 1 Nebraska-Kearney vs. No. 8 Harding
Friday, Nov. 16
5 p.m. UMD/UCM Winner vs. WU/NSU Winner
7:30 p.m. CU/SMSU Winner Vs. UNK/HU Winner
Saturday, Nov. 17
6 p.m. Championship Match