NCAA VOLLEYBALL FIRST, SECOND ROUNDS
At Maturi Pavilion
Friday: Gophers vs. Fairfield, 7 p.m.; Creighton vs. Iowa State, 4:30 p.m.
No. 15 Creighton could loom for U
Saturday: If the Gophers advance, the second-round match will start at 8 p.m. and will be televised on BTN. If the Gophers do not advance, the match will start at 7 p.m.
TV: All matches will be streamed free on BTN Plus.
About the Gophers: The No. 7 seed in the tournament, the Gophers (23-5, 17-3 Big Ten) ended the regular season with three consecutive victories. They are ranked seventh in the final AVCA regular-season poll after finishing in a three-way tie for second in the Big Ten. Stephanie Samedy has a team-high 3.26 kills per set, while Regan Pittman led the Big Ten with 1.43 blocks per set. The Gophers are 22-1 in NCAA first-round matches, 6-0 under coach Hugh McCutcheon.
About Fairfield: The Stags (24-5, 17-1 Metro Atlantic) made the NCAA tournament field for the fourth time in the past five years by winning their conference tournament. They won 19 matches in a row before a 3-2 loss to Canisius on Nov. 16. Freshman Joelle Battles leads a balanced offense with 2.99 kills per set.
About Iowa State: The Cyclones (17-11, 8-8 Big 12) enter the tournament on a three-match losing streak. They finished fourth in the Big 12 to make the NCAA tournament for the 13th time in the past 14 years. Eleanor Holthaus, a 6-1 sophomore from Richmond, Minn., leads the team with 3.24 kills per set and was named to the all-Big 12 first team.
About Creighton: Ranked 15th in the nation, the Bluejays (24-5, 17-1 Big East) are making their eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. The Big East champs tied a school record by beating four teams ranked in the top 25 this season. Keeley Davis, the Big East freshman of the year, has a team-high 3.28 kills per set.