AUSTIN (KXAN) — The top-ranked Texas Longhorns volleyball team is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and will host Farleigh Dickinson in the first round at Gregory Gym.
The tournament selection committee announced the 64-team field Sunday night, awarding the Longhorns one of four top seeds in the tournament. Texas takes on the Knights in the first round at 8 p.m. Thursday with the second-round match at 8 p.m. Friday. Georgia and eighth-seeded Towson is the other matchup scheduled to be at Gregory Gym. They’ll play at 5 p.m. Thursday with the winner advancing to Friday’s play.
“Having the No. 1 seed is an honor that we respect, and we put a lot of hard work to get to this point, but now it’s a whole new season,” Longhorns coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We need to be ready from the first point, starting Thursday night.”
Farleigh Dickinson finished the regular season with a 17-15 record and entered the Northeast Conference tournament as the No. 3 seed. They won the conference tournament, beating top-seeded Sacred Heart in five sets, to get the NEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I’m proud of the hard work we’re putting in at the end of the season,” said senior Logan Eggleston. “The season is very long, and every team in the country is tired, but how we’re able to power through really intense practices is special and says a lot about our team.”
With the top seed, Texas has the chance to host through the regional finals. Other seeded teams in Texas’ quadrant are No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Marquette, No. 5 Georgia Tech, No. 6 Southern California and No. 7 Florida State. Those games are scheduled for Dec. 8 and 10, as long as the Longhorns keep winning, they could keep playing at home until the national semifinals.
Senior libero Zoe Fleck said the home court advantage at Gregory Gym is real and “you can barely hear yourself think.”
“You can’t feel anything but the noise,” Fleck said. “Other stadiums might have more people in them, but Gregory feels like the people are on top of you, and that can be really tough on an opponent, but that’s what makes it so fun. It’s a really, really fun place to play.”
The three other teams given No. 1 seeds in the tournament are Wisconsin, Louisville and Stanford. The entire bracket is available on the NCAA’s website.
Texas is 22-1 this year with its only loss coming in five sets to Iowa State. During their nonconference schedule, the Longhorns beat Ohio State twice, Minnesota, Stanford and Houston, a No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Longhorns also beat High Point, who made the tournament after winning the Big South Conference championship.
The national semifinals and finals are Dec. 15 and 17 at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.