We are just two days away for the NCAA Volleyball Final Four. For the first time ever, Louisville Volleyball has reached the Final Four, and as the 1-seed and 32-0 on the year, the Cards are the favorite to take the title.
The Final Four is no joke and all four remaining teams are ranked in the Top 10 and have definitely earned their spot in Columbus, Ohio.
Today, we'll take a look at the four remaining teams and how the got here.
1-seed Louisville, 32-0
We all know about the Cards and how incredible of a season they have had. Originally ranked #13 in the preseason AP Poll, Louisville quickly climbed the rankings to reach their first ever #1 ranking before then claiming the 2021 ACC title. Louisville has swept 23 of its 32 opponents and has lost a combined 12 sets all year.
Louisville defeated UIC 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-11) in the first round and Ball State 3-0 (29-27, 25-11, 25-19) at LNFCU Arena. At Freedom Hall, the Cards defeated 16-seed Florida 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-12) and 8-seed Georgia Tech (25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20).
3-seed Pittsburgh, 30-3
Pittsburgh is another team we followed rather closely this year. The Panthers, another ACC powerhouse, have turned into somewhat of a rival for the Cards. The Panthers started the season in the Top 10 and never dropped below #4 by mid-September. Their first loss on the year was a 3-2 loss at Georgia Tech. They came to Louisville, where the Cards took a 3-2 win. At the end of the regular season, Louisville went up to Pitt to take a 3-1 win. The Panthers finished the year tied for second in the ACC.
Pittsburgh defeated UMBC 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-18) and Penn State 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23) in the opening two rounds of the tournament. In the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, Pitt defeated Kansas 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-18) and 6-seed Purdue 3-1 (25-20, 28-30, 25-20, 25-15).
4-seed Wisconsin, 29-3
Wisconsin hails from a strong Big Ten conference and was able to take the Big Ten title in their final regular season match. The Badgers fell to Maryland 3-2 early in the year before being swept by Purdue 3-1 both times. The Badgers are another team who has been hanging out in the Top 10 all year, including being ranked as high as #2.
Wisconsin defeated Colgate 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-14) and Florida Gulf Coast 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-15) to start open the tournament. Advancing to the NCAA Regionals, the Badgers defeated 13-seed UCLA 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-17) and 12-seed Minnesota (25-18, 26-24, 25-22).
10-seed Nebraska, 25-7
The only 'surprise' in this list is Nebraska. By seeding, the Huskers should've bene knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen, but one of the most successful programs in college volleyball, Nebraska is comfortable when tournament time rolls around. Technically, the Huskers have 26 wins with one of them being a forfeit by Rutgers in late November. Their seven losses on the year all came against ranked opponents ranked #20 or higher. One of those Nebraska losses was when Louisville traveled to Lincoln in September and won in straight sets. They finished second in the Big Ten, one game behind Wisconsin.
Nebraska began the tournament by defeating Campbell 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-17) and Florida State 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-17). Advancing to the NCAA Regionals, Nebraska defeated Illinois 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-17) and upset 2-seed Texas 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21).
Louisville will face Wisconsin at 7:00 p.m. ET, on Thursday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. If you do choose to travel north for the event please note that there is a mask requirement in place. They have instituted a No Bag policy and the concession stands have gone cashless.
If you have not purchased tickets but need to do so, I have attached the link below. Note: sometimes links do not appear correctly when viewing from a mobile device.
Women's Basketball Rankings
There has been a bit of a shakeup in the women's basketball rankings. Following a recent loss and the injury to star Paige Bueckers, UConn has dropped several spots in the polls and Georgia Tech has jumped up out of nowhere to join the rankings.
South Carolina retained the top spot in the rankings after remaining undefeated. The Gamecocks have separated themselves from the rest of the country. NC State also stayed put at #2. Stanford moved up a spot to #3. Arizona leapfrogged Baylor to take the #4 ranking while Baylor remained at #5.
Louisville climbed a spot up to #6 while UConn and Tennessee are tied at #7. The Huskies dropped down from #3 and the Vols moved up from #9. Maryland is #9, having dropped one spot and Indiana stayed at #10 to round out the Top 10.
#15 Duke, #18 Georgia Tech, #21 Notre Dame, and #25 North Carolina are the other four (out of six) teams from the ACC in the Top 25. Following back-to-back losses Kentucky fell to #19.
Louisville hosts EKU this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (yeah, the game time conflict with Louisville Volleyball is unfortunate). The Cards then head up north to square off against UConn on Dec.19 at 3:30 p.m., before taking a short break for Christmas.
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!