Illinois players watch the NCAA Selection Show at Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Craig Pessman)
Nov. 29, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
Illinois will host first and second rounds matches of the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Tournament at Huff Hall. The Illini (24-5) received the overall fifth seed, the highest the Illini have garnered since the NCAA began seeding the top-16 national teams. Illinois opens play Thursday night at 7 p.m. against the Mastadons from IPFW, who are making their first NCAA appearance. IPFW earned the automatic bid from the Summit League and finished the season 20-11. Milwaukee (16-14), winners of the Horizon League Tournament, will make its second straight trip to Champaign for the NCAA opening rounds and will face Atlantic Ten automatic qualifier Dayton (29-3) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The winners of the two first round matches will meet Friday night at 7 p.m.
Illinois is the second seed in the Stanford Regional, where Stanford (21-7), the Pac-10 champion, is the top seed in the bracket and No. 4 overall. The other seeded teams in the bracket are 12th-seeded Hawaii (27-2) and No. 13 Michigan (24-9). The four second-round winners advance to the Regional, which will be held Dec. 11-12 in Stanford, Calif. The Regional Final will be broadcast live on ESPNU on Dec. 12 at 10:30 p.m. CT. The Final Four is Dec. 17 & 19 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.
"We're excited to be a part of the tournament once again," said Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly. "While the committee rewarded our regular season, we'll have time to reflect on that after the NCAA Tournament. Right now we are focusing on IPFW. The advantage that we have going into this season is we have three NCAA Tournament matches of experience from last year."
Illinois is making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. The ninth-seeded Illini advanced to their 10th Sweet 16 a year ago, defeating Milwaukee and Cincinnati at Huff Hall before falling to No. 8 California in the Regional Semifinal. The Illini have a 23-17 all-time record in the tournament, reaching the Final Four in both 1987 and 1988. Illinois is hosting NCAA Tournament matches for the 12th time and holds an 18-3 record in home tournament matches.
Illinois is one of six teams from the Big Ten in the tournament. Penn State, which is riding a 96-match winning, is the No. 1 overall seed and will be searching for its third straight national title. The Nittany Lions open play in State College against Binghamton. Minnesota (24-8), which also hosts a Regional, is the tournament's overall No. 11 seed and travels to Knoxville, Tenn., where the Gophers play Louisville in the first round. No. 13 Michigan (24-9) hosts Niagara while Ohio State (24-9) hosts Cincinnati in first-round action and could meet No. 9 California in the second round as part of the Gainesville Bracket. Michigan State (17-15) travels to Lexington, Ky., and plays Kentucky as part of the Minneapolis Regional.
A total of 10 Illinois opponents made the field, including Florida State, which earned the overall No. 3 seed. Besides FSU and the five other Big Ten schools, 2009 foes Cincinnati, Ohio, Saint Louis and Louisville all advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
All session tickets for this week's matches in Champaign go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. Monday morning. Reserved tickets are $12, general admission tickets are $10, and student/youth tickets are $6. They can be purchased at the Athletic Ticket Office or by calling 866-Illini-1. Single-session tickets will be sold only at the door and are $7 for general admission and $5 for student/youth.