The University of San Diego women’s volleyball team is ready for what’s next.
Two weeks ago, the nation’s No. 8-ranked team capped off a tremendous regular season with a five-set victory at home over then No. 21 Brigham Young University (BYU) to win the West Coast Conference championship outright. The victory also gave the Toreros the WCC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The USD program, while no stranger to conference titles (winning eight since 1997) or NCAA Tournament appearances (preparing for No. 17), is in its best position since 2006 to have a deep postseason run and, for the first time since 2004, is hosting an NCAA regional at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Toreros (24-3 overall record) were awarded the No. 9 national seed when the 64-team tournament bracket was announced Dec. 1. The four-team regional features USD against Big West Conference champion UC Santa Barbara (18-10) in a 7:30 p.m. match on Friday. Pacific 12 Conference participant Arizona (20-12) plays Western Athletic Conference champion New Mexico State (22-10) in a 5 p.m. match earlier Friday. Winners will meet at 7 p.m. in Saturday’s second-round contest.
The Toreros, who bring a 15-match win streak into postseason play, are excited about what’s ahead.
“We are thrilled to be selected as a host site for the tournament, and as a No. 9 national seed,” said USD Head Coach Jennifer Petrie, who was named WCC Coach of the Year, on Sunday. “I think the team has earned this. We have battled hard this season, playing a really tough out of conference schedule, and this is one of the benefits of our hard work.”
The Toreros are making their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and USD has reached the round of 16 in both 2004 and 2006. What’s odd about this year’s regional and USD hosting it is that the two teams they faced in that 2004 regional were Arizona and New Mexico State. USD won both matches.
While USD has never faced UCSB in an NCAA Tournament match, the Toreros did sweep the Gauchos back on Sept. 14 in the final match of a triumphant USD Tournament that included the Toreros’ four-set victory over then national No. 1 ranked USC.
The 2013 Toreros, who were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation earlier this season, have high expectations for postseason success. Hosting a regional provides USD with a great chance to reach the Sweet 16, which takes place at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
To get there, USD will rely on top players such as senior middle hitters Chloe Ferrari (WCC Player of the Year, pictured, right) and Katie Hoekman (All-WCC first team, pictured, above left), senior setter Rachel Alvey, senior libero C’era Oliveira, senior outside hitter Taylor Hollins, junior middle/outside hitter Alaysia Brown (All-WCC first team) and junior outside hitter Sandra Lozic.
The team’s postseason path begins Friday in the JCP. Tickets for the NCAA Regional are on sale now. Fans can purchase all-session passes for $15 (adults) and $8 (children). Single-match tickets, $10 for adults, $5 for students and children, will go on sale Friday morning. All-session passes can be purchased now through the USD Ticket office or online.
— Inside USD staff
USD Athletics contributed to this story