COLUMBIA — Cheers erupted from about 70 fans, plus the players and staff of the 2013 Southeastern Conference championship volleyball team, as Missouri was announced as the No. 4 seed for the NCAA tournament.
Before the selection show started, at the viewing party hosted by Missouri, the team got a standing ovation when longtime fan Nellie Dodd stood up and talked about how proud the state is of its undefeated team.
Missouri (34-0) will face Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (19-13) on Friday at the Hearnes Center, and Purdue (20-11) will play Central Arkansas (29-3). The winners of each of those first two matches will play each other on Saturday at Hearnes.
The match will be the first time IUPUI has played in the NCAA tournament.
The bigger challenge for Missouri will come at the regional if No. 5-seed Florida wins its first three matches and meets Missouri in Champaign, Ill.
"At this point, honestly, to me, that's still so far ahead in the future; we'll deal with that when the time comes," coach Wayne Kreklow said. "But obviously playing them ... (three times this season) will be really tough, if we are even fortunate enough to get that far. ... I hope we have that problem."
Tickets are on sale for this weekend's matches at mutigers.com.
"It's always nice to stay at home; we don't have to travel. But hopefully we'll get good crowds again," Kreklow said. "That's very helpful, very beneficial; being able to play here in front of our own people on our own home court is certainly something we are excited about."
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors and are good for all three matches this weekend. Single day tickets are also available. The matches will be Friday at 4:30 p.m. (Central Arkansas vs. Purdue) and 6:30 p.m. (Missouri vs. IUPUI) and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (winners of the first two matches), well after the men's and women's basketball games and SEC football championship game. The Missouri wrestling match on Friday will be displaced to Jesse Auditorium.
Senior setter Molly Kreklow is excited to play again at home.
"I think what it all comes down to, a little bit, especially for me and (fellow senior) Lisa (Henning), is to have the attitude that it is gonna be another game that we get to play in, and it is gonna be an honor and a blessing to get to play another game with this team and these coaches," Molly Kreklow said.
The senior said her team is well-equipped to prepare for such a high-profile match: The players will go in with the mindset they have something to prove, same as always.
"We aren't going to put any extra pressure on ourselves, and I think that is going to be huge for this team," she said. "Being 34-0, I think a lot of people think we have pressure on ourselves. And that is not it at all."
The top seed in the NCAA tournament is No. 1 Texas, the reigning national champion. No. 2 is Penn State and No. 3 is the University of Washington. The SEC is well-represented this year in the NCAA tournament as well, with eight SEC teams in the 64-team tournament.
The interactive bracket is available here. A pdf version is available below, use the tool at the top to zoom in.