COLUMBIA, Mo. — After a long, strange trip, Mizzou is dancing after the Tigers volleyball was selected for the 48-team field that comprises the 2021 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship.
"Even coming in this morning, the vibes in the gym were just great," sophomore outside hitter Anna Dixon, a native of Louisburg, said Monday via videoconference.
Mizzou, 15-7, plays South Dakota. 15-6, in the first round at 11 a.m. on April 14 in Omaha, Nebraska.
The winner advances to play Ohio State, which is ninth overall seed, at 11 a.m. on April 15 in the second round.
Volleyball is normally a fall sport with its championship in December, but the tourney was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA volleyball season was split and carried into the spring, so this will technically be the 2020 championship.
Missouri, which finished third in the SEC, is one of the teams that played in both seasons, the fall and spring portions of the schedule.
"This season is so long, that you have to make a choice to be disciplined," junior setter Andrea Fuentes said. "It's not going to be over any time soon. You get to a point where you're going to be tired. How are you going to respond to that? I think it has built a lot of character in us."
The Tigers have been playing since October 2020, but way be peaking at the right time.
Mizzou finished the regular season on four-match winning streak, sweeping Texas A&M and Mississippi State, which was enough to get them into the tournament field as one of the final four teams.
"We definitely got a really good seed this year," senior outside hitter Kylie DeBerg said. "Being able to play South Dakota first and then play Ohio State, they're definitely both beatable teams."
Much like the NCAA basketball tournaments and other championships, the Mizzou volleyball team and the other 47 teams in the field will enter a bubble-like atmosphere in Omaha.
Tigers coach Joshua Taylor said his players will all have their own rooms and will have limited time outside their hotel and the arena.
After that, it's all about playing their best volleyball.
"Volleyball is a very tactical sport," he said, "but in the tournament it's going to be who wants it more."
Mizzou's regional also includes No. 8 seed Florida, the SEC runner-up, and No. 1 overall seed Wisconsin, which is undefeated in 13 matches this season.
ESPN will stream first- and second-round matches. The regional semifinals on April 18 and regional finals on April 19 will air on ESPNU.
The national semifinals on April 22 and championship game on April 24 will be on ESPN2.