The Des Moines regional next Friday and Saturday will be Big Ten reunion. The conference champs, Minnesota, will be there. The Gophers are the No. 2 overall seed and beat Marquette 3-0 Saturday to advance.
And their first opponent there will be Illinois, an unseeded team which upset Louisville 3-1. And if the Gophers win that match, two-time defending champion Penn State could await -- if the Nittany Lions beat Hawaii.
Penn State, coached by the legendary Russ Rose, is 28-5 and looking dangerous. The Nittany Lions eliminated Dayton (27-6), which had a 25-match winning streak, by a 3-1 score. PSU won 25-17, 13-25, 25-14, 25-17.
Sophomore Ali Frantii and senior Aiyanna Whitney each had 14 kills and hit over .400. Frantii hit .407, Whitney .448.
Rose, in his 37th season, has led the Nittany Lions into the NCAA tournament 33 times, or every year there has been one. He has won 1,189 matches. His teams have won seven NCAA titles: 1999, 2007-10 and 2013 and '14. That's six in the past eight years.
PSU's 12-point loss in the second set to the Flyers was its worst this season in a set up to 25. It was also the first lost set out of the past 15.
"We feel fortunate to advance and to know it is never given," said Rose, whlose record in NVAA matches is 94-27. His teams have made 13th consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.
The Nittany Lions outblocked Dayton 9-5 -- as they have in 29 matches this season.
Penn State, the No. 7 seed in the NCAAs, split with the Gophers this season, winning 3-2 at home, losing 3-0 on the road.
ILLINI RIDES HOT HAND
Illinois eliminated No. 15 seed Louisville on its home court, 15-25, 25-22, 25-18, 27-25. Jocelynn Birks did the most damage with a season-high 26 kills on 54 attacks. She hit .425 and had only three errors. The Illini is now 21-12, ACC champ Louisville falls to 25-7.
"[Birks] doesn't want the season to end," Illinois coach Kevin Hambly said, "none of them do. But this is the best I have seen her lead the group."
Birks is a 6-2 senior outside hitter.
Illinois played the Gophers once this season and had a 2-1 lead at the Pav before falling apart. The Gophers won 26-24, 22-25, 22-25, 25-10, 15-6. Birks had 22 kills in that match, Daly Santana of the Gophers 26.
ANOTHER COACHING LEGEND
The fourth team in the Des Moines region is far from Big Ten territory, it's Hawaii.
The Rainbow Wahine ousted Texas A&M, the SEC champion and No. 10 seed by scores of 25-22, 25-19, 25-20. Hawaii is 28-1, losing only to UCLA 3-1, and has won 23 matches in a row.
The Aggies finish 24-8 after losing in second round at home, College Station.
Hawaii's coach, Dave Shoji, is in his 41st season, and like Russ Rose, is the only other coach with more than 1,000 victories. He is at 1,178.
His top player is Nikki Taylor who had 14 kills against A&M and has 950 for her career.
Shoji has four NCAA titles on his resume, but none recently like Russ: 1979, '82, '83, '87. His team played one Big Ten team this season, Iowa, beating the Hawkeyes 3-1.
Besides the Gophers and Penn State, four other conference teams also are still alive. Here's the list:
* Illinois, the biggest surprise. The unseeded Illini upset Louisville.
* Nebraska, the No. 4 overall seed.
* Wisconsin, the No. 6 seed.
* Ohio State, the No. 12 seed.
Three teams were vanquished.
Purdue on Friday, losing 3-1 at No. 3 Texas.
Michigan, losing 3-2 to No. 12 UCLA after taking a 2-0 lead.
Michigan State, losing 3-1 to No. 5 Washington.
SWEET 16 PAIRIINGS
Des Moines regional ... only regional with two unseeded teams ... No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 15 Louisville lost
No. 7 Penn State vs. Hawaii
No. 2 Gophers vs. Illinois
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 UCLA ... Bruins had to rally to beat Michigan in second round
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Florida ... Badgers could win this region
No. 5 Washington vs. No. 12 Ohio State ... How are Huskies the fifth seed as Pac-12 co-champs?
No. 4 Nebraska vs. No. 13 BYU ... Huskers vs. Huskies could be a doozy regional final
San Diego regional
No. 9 Kansas vs. Loyola Marymount ... LM took out Stanford
No. 1 USC vs. No. 16 Creighton