To watch Thursday night's quarterfinal match between Concordia-St. Paul and American International University, click here.

The match begins at 7:30 pm.

After winning seven consecutive NCAA Division II women’s volleyball titles from 2007 to 2013, Concordia (St. Paul) lost in regional tournaments the past two seasons.

Not this year.

Last Saturday, the host Golden Bears won the championship of the Central Regional to earn their 10th trip to the Elite 8 in the past 14 years. And this year, for the first time, the eight teams in the field are seeded.

The Golden Bears (32-2) were named the No. 1 seed and will face No. 8 seed American International (28-6) in the quarterfinals Thursday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The seeding can put some added pressure on your team,” Golden Bears coach Brady Starkey said, “but our girls also understand that rankings don’t mean much this time of year when everyone is good, and you just need to be ready to compete with whoever you play.”

The Golden Bears shared the NSIC regular-season title with Southwest Minnesota State but beat the Mustangs in the title matches of the NSIC tournament and the regional. Since a five-set loss to Southwest Minnesota State on Oct. 14, the Golden Bears have won 16 consecutive matches.

“We have been playing pretty steady for a while now because our ball control has really been solid the last month or so,” Starkey said. “… We have also really picked up our defense at the net and in the back court this year.”

A trio of seniors — Anna Schlaak (372 kills), Riley Hanson (349) and Emma Lange (347) — lead the Golden Bears’ attack. Senior Emily McDonough leads the team with 550 digs.

“We are definitely fired up to be going back to the Elite 8, we have five players that were on the team when we made it in 2013,” Starkey said.

Joel Rippel