Dixie State spikers headed to Alaska for NCAA first-round game

File photo from Dixie State University vs. Point Loma University, Volleyball, St. George, Utah, Nov. 7th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State volleyball team met in the Gardner Center on the Dixie State Campus to watch the NCAA Selection Show. The actual selection confirmed what many had surmised prior — the Red Storm would have a first-round matchup against the West Region No. 1 seed University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Three teams in the West Region got automatic bids by winning their conferences. Dixie State was ranked as the 10th team in the last West Region Standings, but got the automatic bid by winning the Pacific West Conference with a 15-5 record. The Seawolves dominated the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and completed the season with a 30-4 record, taking the automatic bid.

dsulogoThe two teams met earlier in the season at the GNAC/PacWest crossover early in the season. The Seawolves swept DSU in straight sets. The Red Storm was in the midst of an early season swoon where they lost six of seven matches. They rebounded to win 16 of their next 18.

“Both of our teams are playing better than we did earlier in the season,” said Dixie State head coach Robyn Felder. “They are very tough on their home floor (13-1) and were champions of the GNAC, a conference with several good teams.”

Despite the low seeding, the announcement brought cheers from the gathered crowd.

“We were seeded eighth last year, too,” said Dixie State setter Kailey Frei. “We beat the No. 1 seed last year on their home floor and made it all the way to the Regional Final. Just like last year we are going into the tournament healthy and playing as good as we have all season.”

Dixie State head coach Robyn Felder (left) leads the REd Storm back to the NCAA Tournament. File photo from Dixie State University vs. Westminster College, St. George, Utah, Nov. 18th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State head coach Robyn Felder (left) leads the REd Storm back to the NCAA Tournament. File photo from Dixie State University vs. Westminster College, St. George, Utah, Nov. 18th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The tournament will have 39 of the 64 teams that were invited last year, including reigning champion Tampa. The Spartans are seeded second in the South Region and will head back home to host the finals if they win their first three games in Palm Beach.

The top-ranked team, Concordia-St. Paul, won seven straight national championships from 2007-2013. They are the No. 1 seed in the Central Region.

PacWest Teams have a strong history in the NCAA tournament. BYU-Hawaii has been to the championship game three times, winning it in 1999 and 2002. Hawaii Pacific has also won twice in 1998 and 2000.

You can follow the NCAA tournament pairings here.

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