The first two rounds of the NCAA volleyball tournament return to Lincoln this weekend. Nebraska hosts first round matches for the 16th consecutive year. Ball State, Missouri and Northern Iowa also come to town Friday.
The first match of the weekend features Northern Iowa (24-10) taking on Missouri (21-7) with first serve at 4:30 p.m. CST. Northern Iowa qualified for the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid after losing to Illinois State in the final of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. On the other side of the net, Missouri earned its way to Lincoln as an at-large after finishing third in the SEC.
The second match of the night features host Nebraska (25-4) taking on Ball State (20-11) out of Muncie, Indiana. Nebraska, which earned an at-large bid after finishing second to Wisconsin in the Big Ten, comes into the tournament with no seniors on the roster. That’s a first for head coach John Cook. They are led by All Americans Lauren Stivrins and Lexi Sun, and setter Nicklin Hames.
Ball State comes to Lincoln for the first time since 2004. They made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 and 9th time overall after winning the MAC tournament. The Cardinals are led by All-MAC players Natalie Risi, Allison Hamaker, Marie Plitt, and Amber Seaman.
The Northern Iowa Panthers, led by Missouri Valley Conference first team members Karlie Taylor, Rachel Koop, Kate Busswitz and Kaylissa Holterhaus, come to Lincoln on a run of 23 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 34 years.
Missouri, led by all-SEC players Kylie Deberg, Andrea Fuentes, and Tyanna Omazic, makes its 15th trip to the NCAA tournament. Northern Iowa leads the series with Missouri 15-5-3.
The Nebraska-Ball State winner faces the survivor of the Missouri-Northern Iowa match at 7 p.m. CST Saturday. Nebraska leads the series with Missouri 72-3-1, and with Northern Iowa 6-1-1.