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Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

BYU, Utah draw top-16 seeds in NCAA women's volleyball tournament

By Sean Walker  |  Posted Nov 26th, 2017 @ 8:50pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — For the second-straight year, the seventh-ranked BYU women's volleyball team and No. 17 Utah will play in the NCAA Tournament in a first round in the Beehive State.

This time, however, the schools will each grab two of 16 coveted national seeds — and two-round regional host sites.

The No. 7-ranked BYU women’s volleyball team earned the No. 13 overall seed, and will host Patriot League champion American (26-7) in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, as announced by the selection committee Sunday night.

The winner will face the winner of Oregon (17-11) and Atlantic Sun champion Kennesaw State (21-4) in the second round Saturday in Provo. The regional semifinals will be held Dec. 8 in Lexington, Kentucky.

"We're excited to be hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament," BYU coach Heather Olmstead said in a release. "We look forward to opening up the tournament against a very good American team as well as hosting Kennesaw State and Oregon."

The Cougars wrapped up a fourth-straight West Coast Conference title Tuesday with a 3-0 sweep of Loyola-Marymount in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars’ only lost one match in conference play, a 3-1 loss to then-No. 18 San Diego on Oct. 27 in Provo.

BYU is led by outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry, a .280 hitter who averages 4.72 kills per set and McKenna Miller, who hits .257 with 3.12 kills per set. Middle hitter Cosy Burnett adds 2.21 kills and a team-high 1.38 blocks per set.

No. 17 Utah will host Cleveland State (22-7) in a first-round match Thursday at 7 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City. The winner will draw the winner of Purdue and High Point in Friday's second round.

"We are very happy with the 11th seed," Utah coach Beth Launiere said. "It was one of our main goals going into the season to get one of the top 16 seeds and host. So that is one goal met and we hope to achieve more goals now that the tournament is about to begin.

"To be able to play in front of our fans at the Huntsman Center is great for us. They have been tremendous all season long and I really hope that they come out and support us this week."

The Utes (22-9) and Cougars (28-2) were both selected to play in the 2016 edition of the tournament in the regional hosted by BYU, and held a potential second-round matchup between the two clubs. But UNLV upset Utah in the first round, and BYU took care of the Rebels the following night for a fifth-straight Sweet 16 bid.

For the fourth time in five seasons, the Utes will return to the NCAA Tournament, as well, this time as the No. 11 overall seed.

The Utes are one of seven Pac 12 teams in the tournament field.

Penn State, Florida, Stanford and Kentucky were the top-four teams in the 64-team bracket, while traditional powers Nebraska and Texas rounded out the top six. The national championship will be held Dec. 16 in Kansas City.

The full bracket is available on NCAA.com.

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