The Gophers volleyball team will play host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament this weekend, starting with a match against Liberty on Friday night at the Sports Pavilion.
The Gophers (24-7), who finished 15-5 in the Big Ten, earned the No. 8 seed in the 64-team tournament; only the top 16 teams are seeded. Creighton faces Marquette in the first match Friday, and the winners of the two Friday matches will play Saturday.
The Gophers are in the West Lafayette Regional, which also includes Big Ten opponents Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue. Conference champion Penn State is the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed.
The Big Ten and Pacific-12 led all conferences with seven teams each, with Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State also making the field. Nebraska is the No. 4 seed and the top seed in the Omaha Regional. The other regional top seeds are No. 2 Stanford in the Berkeley Regional and No. 3 Texas in the Austin Regional.
Liberty (25-7) has won 10 in a row and earned an NCAA bid by winning the Big South championship Nov. 18, the second consecutive conference title for the Lady Flames. Their roster includes Apple Valley High School product Melissa Racz, a sophomore reserve.
Creighton (28-3) won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and postseason tournament titles for the first time. Marquette went 27-6, setting a program record for victories, and is in its second NCAA tournament in a row.
STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS