The following is a press release courtesy of Iowa State athletics communications.
AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State volleyball team was chosen to participate in the NCAA Volleyball Championship for the ninth-consecutive season on Sunday night. The Cyclones will travel to Champaign, Ill. for the first and second rounds and will face Conference USA champion and No. 24 Western Kentucky in the first round inside Huff Hall at 4:30 p.m. Should the Cyclones win, they will take on the winner of No. 9 seed Illinois and Murray State Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Cyclones and Western Kentucky have never met in volleyball.
Friday’s match at Illinois will be the second time the Cyclones have played at Huff Hall under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. ISU and the Illini played twice back in 2012, with Illinois winning the first match in straight sets before Iowa State came back the next day to take down Illinois in five sets, led by a career-high 25 kills from then-freshman Mackenzie Bigbee.
WKU finished the 2014 with a 30-5 overall, finishing 15-1 in the regular season. The Hilltoppers then claimed the C-USA Conference Tournament with a five-set victory over Rice. Western Kentucky boasted an impressive 13-0 record at home this season. The Toppers are one of the top hitting squads in the nation, ranking 12th in the NCAA with their .276 team hitting percentage and boasting three starters that hit over .320. They are led by All-Conference USA middle blocker Heather Boyan. The senior records her 2.67 kills per set at a .336 hitting percentage and a team-high 1.18 blocks per set. WKU also has the conference freshman of the year in outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh. She leads WKU with 3.39 kills per set.
A win could see ISU take on Illinois, who earned the No. 9 seed for the NCAA Volleyball Championship and are No. 11 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Illini come into the tournament with a 24-7 overall record, going 16-4 in Big Ten play. Illinois are winners of its past three matches, including a home victory over No. 10 Nebraska. UI produced a 12-1 record at Huff Hall this season, its only loss coming to No. 3 Wisconsin. The Illini are led by outside hitter Jocelynn Birks, who averages 3.93 kills per set and 2.59 digs per set. Illinois are a strong blocking team, ranking 24th in the NCAA at 2.73 blocks per set. Their top blocker is sophomore Katie Stadick, the sister of former ISU middle blocker Deb Stadick, who averages 1.34 blocks per set.
Murray State claimed the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) tournament title via a sweep of Belmont. The Racers come into the tournament with a 26-5 overall record. MSU finished the season as winners of 15 of the last 16 matches. Their attack is led by Scottie Ingram, who averages 3.76 kills per set for the Racers.
Should Iowa State win both of its potential matches, it will play its Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight matches at Hilton Coliseum as part of the Ames Regional.
Ticket information will be announced at a later time.