The national title hopes for Stanford and Lewis live on thanks to the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
The men’s volleyball NCAA selection committee announced Sunday morning that the Cardinal and Flyers received the two at-large bids to the upcoming Division I-II NCAA Tournament as it revealed the six-team bracket.
Both Stanford and Lewis join the four schools — Loyola, BYU, Penn State and Erskine — that received automatic bids for winning their conference championships to round-out the tournament field.
This will be the first season the NCAA Tournament has expanded from four to six teams and will feature two play-in matches on Tuesday before the semifinals on Thursday.
Stanford earned the No. 3 seed and will play the No. 6 seed Erskine in the play-in round. In addition, Lewis received the No. 4 seed and will play the No. 5 seed Penn State in other play-in matches.
The winners of the play-in matches will advance to take on the No. 1 seed Loyola and the No. 2 seed BYU in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.
Stanford and Lewis narrowly edged out Pepperdine for the two at-large bids. In the final Off the Block bracketology projections, Lewis held an advantage in the majority of criteria categories but Pepperdine had a chance to get in because of its strength of schedule.
This will be Stanford’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since winning the national championship on its home-court in 2010. Its play-in round opponent Erskine won the Conference Carolinas championship in the first season that the Division II conference was eligible for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Lewis is the first non-West Coast team since IPFW in 1994 to get an at-large bid. The Flyers following its conference tournament championship loss gets to open the tournament against Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are vying for their first national title since that 2008 season and reached this year’s NCAA Tournament after winning the EIVA Tournament for an NCAA-record 16th consecutive year.
As the top two seeds, Loyola and BYU earned byes into the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Loyola is the first MIVA team to earn the No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history. The Rambler also became the first team since Ohio State in 1969 to go undefeated in a MIVA regular season consisting of at least 10 matches and then win the MIVA Tournament.
Along with the top-overall seed, Loyola is attempting to become the second school in the last five years to win the NCAA championship while playing host to the event.
BYU earned the No. 2 seed after sweeping Stanford in the MPSF Tournament championship match for its second consecutive conference title. In addition, BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander last week became the fourth player in the history of the MPSF to win back-to-back conference player of the year honors.
The NCAA Tournament for the first time will be played in Chicago at Loyola’s Gentile Arena. The NCAA finals will also be nationally televised live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday.