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Washington St - Volleyball

Washington St. gets at-large invitation to NCAA tournament

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by WSU Athletics

PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball team received an at-large bid to the 2009 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament Sunday.

The Cougars, 18-12 overall, 6-12 in Pacific-10 Conference (8th), will play Northern Iowa (30-2) in the first round, at 4:30 p.m. CT, Friday, Dec. 4, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska (23-6) and seeded 10th in the tournament takes on Coastal Carolina (20-13) at 7 p.m. CT, Dec. 4. The winners will meet in the second round of the tournament at 5 p.m. CT Saturday, Dec. 5. All matches will be played in 4,030-seat NU Coliseum on the University of Nebraska campus. The NU Coliseum has sold-out the past 133-consecutive Huskers volleyball matches.

"Anytime you accomplish something as a team, it is fun for me to see the excitement in the players' faces," WSU Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. "Today, seeing the frustration of all the hard work that they have put in over the last two years that I've been here go out the window, and seeing all of their smiles and excitement when they saw WSU on the TV screen. That is what is fun for me, at this point right now, before we get started preparing for the match."

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 Members of Washington St.'s volleyball team celebrate the news after being invited to the NCAA Championship Tournament (Photo: WSU Athletics)

This is the 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament for the WSU volleyball program and the first under second-year WSU Head Coach Palileo. This marks the first time Washington State has played in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament since the 2002 season. Ironically, in 2002, the Cindy Fredrick-coached WSU team defeated Northern Iowa 3-0 in the NCAA East Regional Semi-final match in Gainesville, Florida. Another irony is the fact that Palileo ended his highly successful seven-year coaching career at South Dakota State with the Jackrabbits' first trip to the NCAA Tournament, a 3-0 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln (Nov. 30, 2007).

"I actually know quite a bit about Northern Iowa volleyball. While I was coaching at South Dakota State we played Northern Iowa a few times in spring tournaments and twice during the years I was there," Palileo said. "They are a big team but not any bigger than any team we have already faced. They have a good ball-control team but not any better than what we have already faced in our conference. The preparation will be a little different because we match up with their size but with speed. They are a little more methodical team from the standpoint of they run the high middle two heavy balls and then they set a lot to their outsides. I don't think we are going to face any better outsides than what we faced this year, night in and night out. I feel good about our match-up. It will be two totally different kinds of systems. I think we are familiar with each other and it will be an exciting match. It will be fun for me to see old friends again."

Eight Pac-10 teams are playing in the tournament - Stanford, Washington, UCLA, California, USC, Oregon, Arizona and Washington State. The Big 12 and the Big 10 Conferences each have six teams playing in the tournament.

The Cougars are still finalizing travel plans but are tentatively set to leave Pullman early Wed., Dec. 2. The WSU volleyball NCAA matches can be heard live on KQQQ 1150AM radio and through the Cougars All-Access on the Internet. A live video Internet streaming webcast of the match will also be available at www.ncaa.com.

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