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Weber State volleyball draws matchup at BYU in NCAA Tournament

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Nov 26, 2023

Photo supplied, Big Sky Conference

Weber State volleyball players celebrate a point against Sacramento State in the Big Sky tournament semifinals Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in Greeley, Colo.

The third trip to the NCAA Tournament in Weber State’s program history will be a short one, distance-wise.

After winning the Big Sky tournament, Weber State (21-9) will travel south to No. 4 seed BYU (24-6) for an NCAA Tournament first-round game at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at Smith Fieldhouse.

“We’re excited about being able to play for an extra week,” WSU head coach Jeremiah Larsen said. “This has been a wonderful experience with our players and they’ve been working so hard.”

BYU is the host of a regional pod that also includes Georgia and No. 5 Arizona State, who face off at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The two winners play again at 7 p.m. the following night.

While WSU’s trips to the NCAA Tournament are a recent development, BYU is making its 12th straight appearance and 36th overall. The two haven’t met since 2021 when WSU took the Cougars to five sets, but BYU holds a 57-0 advantage in the all-time series.

“Any time we get to do this, it’s a fun experience and we’re going to cherish every moment of it,” Larsen said.

In the 64-team bracket, each of the four regions has eight teams that are assigned seeds.

Another such team is Utah State (24-6), a No. 6 seed who will open with Minnesota on Friday in a regional pod hosted by No. 3 Creighton.

TV assignments are forthcoming but all games are carried on the ESPN family of networks, meaning any match not carried on cable TV will be available on ESPN+.

Weber State’s path to the NCAA Tournament was a tough one. Seeded No. 4 in the Big Sky tournament, the Wildcats got down 2-1 against No. 1 Sacramento State in the semifinals and trailed the fourth set 18-12 before rallying for a five-set win.

The next night in the tournament final, WSU beat No. 3 Montana State in five sets. In the three sets Weber State won, the Wildcats trailed 23-19, 16-11, and then 12-8 in the fifth.

“I’m still kind of pinching myself that we’re here. I’m just so happy for our players,” Larsen said. “We went through so much this year with injuries, and dealing with emotions and self-doubt and fear, and we put it together for the last week of the year at a perfect time.”


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