Wisconsin to host First and Second round NCAA

The 11th-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team has been awarded home court advantage during the opening two rounds of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

MADISON, Wis. -- * The University of Wisconsin has been selected to host first and second-round matches of the 2006 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in the UW Field House. The 11th-ranked Badgers (24-6) will take on Notre Dame (18-13) in first-round action on Friday at 7 p.m. Iowa State (20-10) will play UW-Milwaukee (24-5) in the other first-round match on Friday at 5 p.m. First-round winners will play in the second-round match on Saturday at 7 p.m. The second-round winner will advance to the NCAA Regional in Austin, Texas, on Dec. 8-9.

"It's a pretty good bracket; we like it and we're glad we're hosting," said UW Coach Pete Waite. "The team really cranks it up for the tournament and they're ready to make a great run."

Wisconsin, which earned the No. 10 seed in the tournament, is making its 15th overall and 11th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in 2006. The Badgers are 26-14 in 14 appearances in the championship and have advanced to the NCAA Regional finals (Elite Eight) the last two seasons.

All three teams coming to Madison are familiar to the Badgers. Wisconsin downed then-No. 9 Notre Dame, 3-2, in the 2005 NCAA Regional semifinals in College Station, Texas. The Fighting Irish graduated a large group of seniors and tied for third in the 2006 Big East Conference race at 10-4.

The Badgers swept UW-Milwaukee, 3-0, in Milwaukee on Sept. 9. The Panthers earned an automatic bid to the NCAA championship after winning the Horizon League Tournament title and the league's regular-season title at 13-1.

Former UW assistant coach Christy Johnson is currently head coach at Iowa State, which tied for fourth in the Big 12 Conference at 12-8.

"I kind of guessed a couple of those teams," said Waite of the first and second-round field. "UW-Milwaukee I kind of predicted to come and I was thinking Iowa State would either come us or Minnesota and since Minnesota was on the road, it was just meant to be that Christy Johnson would come back here with her team and we'd see Iowa State."

The Badgers are looking to advance to NCAA Regional play for the third straight year.

In 2004, Wisconsin defeated Loyola (Ill.) and Notre Dame is first and second-round action, respectively, before traveling to Green Bay for regional play. The UW upset No. 2 Hawai'i in the regional semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Stanford in the regional final.

In 2005, Wisconsin traveled to College Station, Texas, for regional play, upsetting No. 9 Notre Dame in the semifinals and again losing to the eventual national champion Washington in the finals.

Other seeded teams in the Austin regional are No. 2 Stanford, No. 7 Texas and No. 15 Cal Poly.

"You have to look ahead a little bit to see who you might run into but you have to take care of business the first two matches and hope you get there," said Waite of his team's chances of advancing to regional play again. "The fact that we played Texas earlier this year, we have a read on them, we have some information on them. We know that we didn't play that well against them and we feel that we have improved a lot since then. It was one of those things that was meant to be that we would see someone that we've seen already."

Tickets for first and second-round matches, which must be purchased in a three-match, two-day package until the day of the tournament, are $12 for a reserved seat. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for seniors, youth and students.

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