NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal wanted his team to travel far from Middle Tennessee for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and he got his wish.
The Bisons found out Monday night during the NCAA Selection Show on ESPNU that they will be facing No. 14-seeded UCLA Friday in the first round. The Hall of Fame room was filled to capacity with fans, friends and family of the volleyball program.
“I said if you are going to send us somewhere let us travel far away,” Rosenthal said. “You can’t get much farther away than Los Angeles. This is an opportunity for Lipscomb to put its name on the map a little more.
“In a lot of ways it is good. As a group of coaches we have been asking not to make the NCAA Tournament as regionally-based. They broke it up a little bit.”
Lipscomb (23-8, 13-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference) and UCLA (23-7, 14-6 in the PAC-12 Conference) will play at 10 p.m. CT Friday night. Santa Clara and Michigan will face each other in the first match of the day.
The winners will play Saturday night at 9 CT.
The matches will be played at the 2,000-seat John Wooden Center. Pauley Pavilion will be hosting men’s and women’s basketball.
This will be the first time the two schools have played each other in women’s volleyball. This will be one of the tallest teams the Bisons have faced this season with six UCLA players at 6-foot-3 or higher.
“We know UCLA a little bit and I guess they are saying the same thing about us,” Rosenthal said. “They are a seasoned team. They beat USC at USC, the No. 1 team in the nation.
“We are going to have to go out there and find ways to defend and find ways to score. I think we have done that all year. We have had a lot of success with some of the taller teams. This is a challenge we have in front of us and this is an exciting one.”
The Bisons are making their sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, their second in a row. They have lost all five times in the first round. Rosenthal thinks this team is ready to do more than just qualify for the tournament.
“Before the (A-Sun) championship game with Kennesaw State I peeked in the locker room just to see where we were time-wise,” Rosenthal said. “The players were going over the game plan. I knew they were ready to go. I think that shows the maturity of the team.”