Nov. 25, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the program record fifth-consecutive season, the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team will be a part of the NCAA Tournament field, as the Big Orange earned an at-large bid into the 64-team bracket on Sunday evening during a live Selection Show on ESPNU.
"We're very excited about being selected to the NCAA Tournament," said head coach Rob Patrick. "I felt that we had a very good resume and that the NCAA Selection committee had to look very hard at seeding us and they obviously made some different decisions on that. But, we're going to go up to Louisville and play our first and second round matches at the University of Louisville and we're very excited about that."
"We don't have to travel over any time zones and we can drive up there so that helps us," Patrick said. "It will be a very comfortable place for us to play. We played at Louisville last year and were successful up there so we're looking forward being in the NCAA Tournament. We're very excited about it, the players are excited about it and our opening round match is going to be a very tough match against a Big Ten team."
The Lady Vols (22-7), who are making their 14th all-time appearance in the NCAA Championship and the eighth in the past nine seasons, will make the short trip to Louisville, Ky., to take on the Michigan Wolverines (23-11) out of the Big Ten Conference in the opening round. The sides will match up for the fifth time in program history on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. ET at the KFC Yum! Center - the site of the 2012 NCAA Final Four and National Championship in mid-December.
"Michigan, which we've played in the past, is very well-coached and battle-tested going through the Big Ten schedule," said Patrick. "It's going to be a fantastic match and we're going to have to bring our A-game to be successful and get past them."
The winner will advance to Friday night's Second Round matchup to face the winner of Belmont (18-16) vs. 10th-seeded and opening round host Louisville (29-3). In their first season in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Bruins won three conference tournament matches to earn the OVC's automatic bid. The Cardinals have won 13 straight entering tournament play and went on to win the BIG EAST regular season and tournament crown.
"If we get past them, we'll face the winner of Belmont and Louisville. Belmont won their conference tournament in the Ohio Valley Conference so they're obviously battle-tested. They had to win a couple matches to get their automatic bid."
"Louisville had a fantastic year this year," said Patrick. "They really played a strong schedule, were very successful through the season and again another very well-coached team, a very athletic team, but a team we're a little familiar with. All four teams in this first and second round are battle-tested and deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament, but our focus is going to be just on the first match against Michigan. We know how hard that match is going to be and we have a couple days to get ready for them."
The four teams will fight for a chance to advance to the NCAA Regional in Berkeley, Calif.
Tennessee, which is 13-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, has played nine teams in this season's field and is 6-6 against those opponents in 2012. UT also matched up with five of the 16 seeded squads and went 2-4 in those matches.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences led the way with seven teams each, while the West Coast Conference had six teams get the nod.
The Southeastern Conference had five teams advance to this season's bracket, with league champion Florida leading the way. The Gators are seeded 14th, while Kentucky rounds out the seeded teams in 16th. Texas A&M and Arkansas join the Lady Vols in the field of 64.
In the 31-year history of the championship, 10 schools have been crowned National Champions - eight of which are in this year's field.
All-session tickets for the NCAA First and Second Round matches will go on sale to general public at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, and will be available until Thursday, Nov. 29. All-session tickets are lower level reserved seating and adult tickets can be purchased for $20. Tickets are $10 for youth (ages 3-18) and $10 for seniors (55 and older).
Single-session tickets for Thursday's first round matches will go on sale on Thursday beginning at 3:30 p.m. and will only be available at the KFC Yum! Center ticket office. Tickets for Friday's second round match will be available beginning at 9 a.m. at any U of L ticket office or at beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center ticket office.
Tickets are available by calling the Louisville Athletic Ticket Office at (502) 852-5151, online at GoCards.com or in person at the Student Activities Center ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For all the latest Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball news, visit UTSports.com/volleyball or follow @LadyVol_Vball on Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag #TNVB with all things related to Big Orange volleyball.