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Wisconsin women nab 1-seed in volleyball tourney 

Wisconsin was awarded the No. 1 seed in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, which begins April 14.

The bracket was released Sunday for the 48-team tournament, which will be played entirely in a bubble-like setting in Omaha, Nebraska.

Normally, women’s volleyball is a fall sport with a 64-team NCAA tournament in December. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was split this school year as some teams — including from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences — played only after January, while others also had fall matches. Thus, the teams involved have a big disparity in the number of matches they have played heading into the tournament.

The tournament was downsized to 48 teams, so the top 16 seeds all have first-round byes. Teams from the same conference are not paired during the first two rounds.

Wisconsin was the national runner-up in 2019, 2013 and 2000, and the 13-0 Badgers are seeking their first NCAA volleyball championship. Volleyball doesn’t seed its entire field, just the top 16. Rounding out the top four seeds are No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Minnesota and No. 4 Texas.

The rest of the seeds are: No. 5 Nebraska, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 10 Oregon, No. 11 Louisville, No. 12 Baylor, No. 13 Penn State, No. 14 Utah, No. 15 Washington State and No. 16 BYU.

Defending champion Stanford, which won three of the past four championships and has an NCAA-best nine titles overall, missed the field for the first time since the NCAA tournament began in 1981. The Cardinal had multiple matches canceled due to COVID-19 issues, and played just 10 all season, going 2-8.

Penn State is now the only program that has made every NCAA tournament field.

The Big Ten has six teams in the field to lead all conferences, while the Pac-12 has five and the ACC four. N.C. A&T and Utah Valley are making their NCAA tournament debuts.

All matches will be at the CHI Health Center Omaha facility, which has both an arena and convention center. Early-round matches will be played April 14-15, with regional semifinals set for April 18. All those matches will be at the convention center.

Regional finals will be April 19. The final four will take place April 22 and 24 on ESPN2. All those matches will be at the arena. Matches throughout the tournament will be streamed on ESPN3.

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