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No. 11-seed BYU will host Boise State, Utah, UVU in NCAA women’s volleyball tournament

WCC champion Cougars (29-1) and red-hot Utes (21-8) are on a collision course in second round if they can knock off Broncos, Wolverines, respectively, in the first round at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo

BYU and Utah square off in an NCAA women’s volleyball match on Sept. 16, 2021 in Provo, Utah. The Cougars and Utes are on course to face each other in the NCAA Tournament.
BYU Photo

Longtime rivals BYU and Utah are on a collision course in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament again.

BYU (29-1) received the No. 11 national seed in the tournament on Sunday and will be one of 16 hosts in first and second-round matches to be held Friday and Saturday at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.

The Cougars will meet Mountain West tournament champion Boise State (24-10), while Utah (21-8) will meet Utah Valley (16-12) in the other match Friday.

Winners will meet on Saturday night. Although they were hoping for a top 16 seed and the opportunity to host a regional, the Utes weren’t disappointed, head coach Beth Launiere said.

“We weren’t surprised with the draw,” Launiere said. “We have familiarity and know what we are doing.

“It doesn’t matter where you end up in the Dance because you have to win matches and face challenges along the way wherever you land.”

BYU’s only loss this season was to No. 3-seed Pitt 3-1 at Pitt on Sept. 10 in the Panther Challenge, but strength of schedule was again mentioned on the tournament selection show as the reason the Cougars got a double-digit seed.

The Cougars are ranked No. 4 in the national poll.

Only top-seeded Louisville (28-0) has a better record than the Cougars.

The Utes, ranked No. 17 in the poll, have won eight of their last nine matches, including a sweep of No. 21 Washington State last Wednesday.

“I never take this for granted,” Launiere said. “The work that this team put in this year, to take third in the Pac-12 and to get in to the tournament needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. ... Utah Valley has a very good program, a very good staff and head coach in Sam Atoa, and we respect them a lot.

“We will have to do a very good job of prepping for them.”

Utah’s only loss since a Nov. 5 setback to No. 13 UCLA in five sets was to No. 19 Stanford 3-1 on Nov. 21.

BYU defeated Utah Valley 3-0 in Provo on Sept. 18, two days after sweeping the Utes in Provo.

The scores in that match were 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, so Utah is obviously capable of knocking off the one-loss Cougars.

Locations are more important than seeding to the NCAA, which is why two top 20 teams are on course play in Provo next weekend.

BYU holds a 74-29 record all-time against Utah, but in 2019 the Utes traveled to Provo and knocked off No. 17 BYU 3-0 in a second-round tournament match.

Five days after BYU defeated Utah 26-17 in football, the No. 15 Cougars hosted the No. 10 Utes and handed Utah its first loss of the season.

In front of 5,140 fans, BYU record 53 kills and a .299 hitting percentage to hold off the Utes.

BYU was led by Kenzie Koerber, who transferred from Utah before this season. She had 14 kills and six digs in that match.

The national championship match will be played Dec. 18 in Columbus, Ohio.