By Matthew Montague
The Mountain West Conference women”s volleyball tournament begins Thursday, Nov. 21, in Fort Collins, Colorado.
For the third straight year, Colorado State captured the Mountain West Conference regular season championship and earned a No. 1 seed in the MWC Championship.
The Rams swept a crucial road trip as they knocked off No. 21 Utah in four games and swept BYU in three games last weekend to give them sole possession of first place.
Colorado State is now 20-8 on the year and 12-2 in MWC play.
The Rams, who host the MWC Championship for the second time in three years, take on No. 8 seed Air Force in the 7 p.m. match tonight.
San Diego State (20-11, 11-3 MWC) came up just short of Colorado State as they ended the season with a 20-11 record overall and 11-3 conference record.
It is the Aztecs best finish in the MWC and they earned a No. 2 seed in the tournament.
The Aztecs play No. 7 New Mexico at 1:30 p.m.
Defending conference tournament champion Utah is a No. 3 seed and battles No. 6 seed Wyoming at 11 a.m.
Last year the Utes defeated Colorado State in five games to capture their first MWC tournament championship.
BYU enters this year”s tournament with a No. 4 seed and faces No. 5 seed UNLV at 4 p.m.
“I feel that if we play well and put three good matches together that we can win the tournament,” BYU head coach Karen Lamb said. “Hopefully for tournament we”ll be healthier and ready to win.”
Semifinal matches are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday. The championship match will be televised live on Fox Sports Net (Rocky Mountain) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Over the past three years the MWC has had a variety of tournament champions.
Colorado State came out victorious in 1999, BYU won in 2000 and Utah claimed the title in 2001.
The winner of the 2002 MWC Championship earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In the past the magic number to be invited to the NCAA Tournament has been 20.
This year, for the first time in conference history, four teams enter the conference tournament with 20 wins (Colorado State, San Diego State, Utah and Wyoming).
Last year four teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament as Utah received the automatic berth, while BYU, Colorado State and San Diego State earned at-large bids.