It’s tournament time for the No. 11 Wisconsin volleyball team.
After splitting their final regular-season matches over the weekend against No. 1 Penn State (3–1 loss) and Rutgers (3–0 win) at the Field House, the Badgers (20–9) head west to play Marquette in a bracket hosted by overall No. 14 seed Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. Play starts at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Despite not hosting a tournament match this year, Wisconsin has a winnable path the first weekend. The Badgers and Golden Eagles met earlier this season in the Badger Classic. Wisconsin defeated Marquette (22–9) in that match, 3–1.
Host Iowa State (21–6) boasts wins against four tournament teams, including overall No. 9 seed Creighton and overall No. 16 seed Wichita State. Despite the higher seed, however, Iowa State is only ranked No. 22 in the AVCA coaches poll released Monday, 11 spots lower than Wisconsin.
This is the fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament under coach Kelly Sheffield. Wisconsin has made it to at least the Sweet 16 in each season under Sheffield, who has a 13–4 record in tournament play with the Badgers. If Wisconsin makes it that far this season, it could match up with overall No. 3 seed Stanford, who eliminated the Badgers in last year’s tournament en route to a national championship.
Winner of seven of the past 10 tournaments, the Big Ten is well represented in this year’s tournament. In addition to Wisconsin, Penn State (No. 1 overall seed), Nebraska (No. 5 overall seed), Minnesota (No. 7 overall seed), Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan all made the tournament. Additionally, in an interview with Volleyballmag.com, selection committee chair Lisa Peterson said that Maryland and Iowa were among the last four teams out.