BYU women’s volleyball receives top seed for NCAA tournament

The BYU women’s volleyball team reacts to finding out about being selected as a top four seed for the NCAA tournament. (BYU Photo)

The BYU women’s volleyball team was selected as one of the four top seeds on Nov. 25 for the upcoming NCAA tournament, receiving the No. 4 seed overall.

“We’re just so thrilled,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. “We feel like we’ve done a really good job with our non-conference (matches) and our conference, and played really well all season. We’re excited to have another match at home.”

The Cougars are set to play Stony Brook in the first round on Nov. 30 at the Smith Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. A potential rematch could then be in store for BYU, as the winner of Friday’s match will play the winner of the Utah-Denver match. The match between Utah and Denver will also be played on Nov. 30 in the Smith Fieldhouse at 4 p.m. The Cougars swept the Utes earlier this season (25-20, 25-14, 25-17) on Sept. 13 at home.

Because of its top four selection, BYU is guaranteed home court advantage until the semifinal and final rounds, which will be played in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Cougars were undefeated at home this season (13-0) and had the top two most attended matches at the Smith Fieldhouse in program history.

“I love the Smith Fieldhouse, and I love our fans,” BYU libero Mary Lake said. “Just to know that we’re going to be able to have our fans here for as long as we can is exciting because playing in the Smith Fieldhouse is special.”

The three other teams selected as top seeds for this year’s tournament are No. 1 overall Stanford, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Illinois. BYU defeated then-ranked and currently ranked No. 1 Stanford earlier this season (25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 20-25, 15-11) at home on Aug. 31.

BYU held the No. 1 ranking overall this season for 11 consecutive weeks, and was atop the college women’s volleyball rankings for the first time since 1986. The Cougars were undefeated all season until their very last match against Loyola Marymount, where BYU was swept (25-23, 27-25, 25-20). Olmstead talked about how that loss could actually be an advantage for the team heading into the tournament.

“I think (the loss) is going to be good for us,” Olmstead said. “We see some tweaks we can make and improvements in our game. We learned a lot of lessons that I’d like to learn at that point in the season rather than in the tournament.”

BYU senior outside hitter and national player of the year candidate Roni Jones-Perry talked about how she feels the Cougars can carry their success into the tournament.

“(It takes) a lot of grit and a lot of fight,” Jones-Perry said. “I think if we can get fired up and trust in our training and our teammates then it’s going to be good.”

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