Loper volleyball hosts Central Region for second straight season

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The second-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team is in the NCAA Tournament for a 21st straight season and will battle the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison in the first round of the Central Regional on Thursday, December 5, at the Health & Sports Center.

UNK huddles up after their win.

The 64-team NCAA Tournament field, eight schools from each of Division II's eight regions, was announced tonight.

This is the seventh time in school history UNK has hosted an NCAA Regional (1995, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2018). Including the 2005 Elite Eight, the Lopers are 12-4 all-time in NCAA home matches.

UNK is 27-23 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 with the last NCAA win coming in the second round of the 2012 regional. Finally the Lopers’ 21-year NCAA run trails only the University of Tampa (1996-present). The Spartans, defending national champions, have now made the "Big Dance" 24 straight years.

Ticket prices are $10 for Adults, $7 for Senior/Ages 6-18, $5 College Students w/ I.D. All Session Pass is $27 for Adults, $18 for Seniors/Ages 6-18 years old. Go to www.lopertickets.com for purchasing options.

The Central Region is far and away the best in the country as it features Concordia-St. Paul, winners of nine of the last 12 national titles, and seven other nationally-ranked teams. The Top 25 teams left out of the regional this year are Wayne State (13th), Winona State (16th), Upper Iowa (18th), Southwest Minnesota State (20th), and Northwest Missouri State (21st).

The top-seeded Lopers (33-0) and eighth-seeded Bison (28-5), regular season and tournament champions of the Great American Conference (GAC), met earlier this fall in Kearney as part of the Loper Preseason Invite. UNK fell behind 2-0 in the match but rallied for one of its three five-set victories this season (19-25, 17-25, -7, -14, -13).

The UNK/OBU winner takes on either Northern State or St. Cloud State. The eight region winners advance to the Elite Eight, held this year December 12-14 at Metro State in Denver.

Below are the seeds for the regional, along with national rankings as of Nov. 25, and record to date.

Seed National Rank/School/Record … Bid
1. #2 Nebraska-Kearney (33-0) …. Automatic bid from the MIAA
2. #6 Minnesota-Duluth (24-6) …. At-Large
3. #3 Concordia-St. Paul (25-7) … Automatic bid from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
4. #8 Northern State (24-5) …. At-Large
5. #7 St. Cloud State (25-6) … At-Large
6. #5 Washburn (27-3) …. At-Large
7. #9 Central Missouri (23-9) …. At-Large
8. Oklahoma Baptist (28-5) … Automatic bid from the Great American Conference

Thursday, Dec. 5
12 p.m. No. 3 CU vs. No. 6 WU
2:30 p.m. No. 2 UMD vs. No. 7 UCM
5 p.m. No. 4 NSU vs. No. 5 SCSU
7:30 p.m. No. 1 UNK vs. No. 8 OBU

Friday, Dec. 6
5 p.m. CU/WU Winner vs. UMD/UCM Winner
7:30 p.m. NSU/SCSU Winner Vs. UNK/OBU Winner

Saturday, Dec. 7
7 p.m. Championship Match