Volleyball at the NCAAs

KU faces Long Beach State in first NCAA appearance

MALIBU, Calif. -- The University of Kansas volleyball team (21-10, 13-7 Big 12) will compete in its first-ever NCAA Tournament match Thursday as it faces Long Beach State (19-10, 12-6 Big West) in the First Round of bracket play. The Jayhawks will take on the 49ers at 6 p.m. CST at the Firestone Fieldhouse on the Pepperdine University campus.

Long Beach State will make its 17th straight and 18th overall appearance in the NCAA postseason when the team meets KU in Malibu. It will be the first meeting between the 49ers and Jayhawks.

The 49ers are 4-0 against Big 12 teams in the postseason and are 10-3 all-time in NCAA First Round contests. Long Beach State is 44-14 in NCAA matches under head coach Brian Gimmillaro, including national titles in 1989, 1993 and 1998, since his arrival in 1985.

Long Beach State has lost its last two NCAA Tournament matches, falling to UCLA on the Pepperdine campus last year and to Stanford in 2001. The 49ers are led by 6-2 middle blocker Erika Chidester, who averages better than 4.25 kills per game.

After wrapping up its best season in the program's 28-year history, Kansas was among the six Big 12 teams invited to the 2003 tournament. Under head coach Ray Bechard, the Jayhawks recorded their first 20-win season since 1991 and finished tied for third in conference play -- the best in school history.

Kansas is led by 2003 First-Team All-Big 12 selection Josi Lima and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Ashley Michaels, who average better than 3.10 kills per game and a .319 attack percentage.

The winner of the Kansas/Long Beach State match will face the winner of the Pepperdine/Manhattan contest in Second Round play Friday at 6 p.m. CST.


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