The Penn State women’s volleyball team could get a lot of home cooking for the NCAA tournament.
The draw for the 64-team field was revealed Sunday night, with the Nittany Lions (29-1) earning the No. 1 seed. They will meet Howard (16-15) in the opening round at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rec Hall. The other match slated for 5 p.m. at Rec Hall features Pittsburgh and Virginia Commonwealth, with Friday’s winners meeting Saturday in the second round.
Penn State has been ranked No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll for the last six weeks and has the nation’s best record. The Nittany Lions are also on a 19-match win streak and earned a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Nebraska picked up the Big Ten’s automatic qualifying berth after handing Penn State its only loss in September.
The Howard Bison are the MEAC champions, and last faced the Nittany Lions in the opening round in 2015. Penn State was last the No. 1 seed in 2012, and that seeding means the Nittany Lions could host the regional semifinals and finals Dec. 8-9. The regionals were last played at Rec Hall in 2010. Potential teams in that regional include No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Creighton, No. 16 Wichita State, Hawaii and Michigan State.
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Penn State and defending champion Stanford are in the field for the 37th straight year, the only schools to play in every NCAA tournament. The two programs also share the record for most national championships with seven, with the Nittany Lions’ last crown in 2014. Seven members of this year’s Penn State team were freshmen during the last national title season.