2021 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament Preview

Updated: December 4th

The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament kicks off Thursday, December 2nd at sixteen locations across the country. After a tumultuous 2020 (it seems like we just finished that tournament), 2021 has been more of a return to normalcy. Two of the biggest trends of the 2021 season have been increased parity across Division I and the impact of Super Seniors.

Division I Parity

It has never been harder to dominate in Division I. The best regular season record belongs to Louisville, playing in the ACC conference. While the ACC isn’t as deep as a conference top-to-bottom as the Big 10, the Cardinals have defeated all of the ranked opponents they’ve faced and have signature wins against top 5 opponents. There are only a few one-loss teams, and most of the Top 25 RPI is filled teams that have 5 or more losses. In addition to the depth of talent in Women’s Volleyball today, the extra seniors around with an extra year of Covid eligibility has made for very equal teams across the top 25.

Super Seniors

With the 2020 season split between fall and spring play and several conferences suspending play for the year, the NCAA granted all players an extra year of eligibility. This has created a logjam of experienced “Super Seniors” using their 5th year to play, at their original team or as a graduate transfer. Louisville is led by Super Senior Setter Tori Dilfer and Pitt’s Super Senior Kayla Lund has led the attack for the Panthers.

Other notable Super Seniors on top teams:

  • Purdue: Libero Jena Otec and OH Caitlyn Newton (Almost all of Purdue’s starters are Seniors or Supers, with the exception of stand-out freshman MB Raven Colvin)
  • Wisconsin: Libero Lauren Barnes, Setter Sydney Hilley, DS Giorgia Civita and perennial All American MB Dana Rettke make the Badgers one of the most experienced teams in the tournament.
  • Baylor: OH Avery Skinner from National Champion Kentucky, RS Marieke van der Mark and OH Yossiana Pressley lead the Bears.
  • Nebraska: MB Lauren Stivrins and OH Lexi Sun lead the Huskers experienced squad.
  • Texas and Kentucky: Notable in that the Longhorns and Wildcats have no Super Seniors this year.
  • UCLA: OH Mac May and Grad-transfer Setter Shelby Martin lead the experienced Bruins team.

NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament Format

First and Second Rounds: December 2-4, 2021

In the first and second rounds, four teams compete at locations hosted on the home court of the top 16 tournament seeds. These early-round games are some of the best bang-for-your-buck options as you’ll see two matches each day in the first round. The days are staggered across different locations, some playing on Thursday and Friday, while the rest are Friday and Saturday. Second round games are played the next day at the same location and then winner of that match moves on to the third round where 16 teams remain in the tournament.

Regionals (2nd and 3rd Rounds): December 9-11, 2021

The Regionals are held on campus, usually at the home court of the top remaining seeds. Two matches are played during the Regionals round and each of the four Regional Finals winners move on to the National Championship Semifinals. The Regionals are the last chance to see your favorite team on campus, so these tickets are usually the best balance between high-level competition and travel distance.

National Championship: December 16-18, 2021

The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship is three matches played at a neutral location. The two semifinal matches determine the teams in the National Championship match. The Championship is played two days after the Semifinal matches to allow players to recover, so make sure you have travel arrangements setup to stay for 3 days.

TicketCity is your source for NCAA Volleyball Tournament Tickets. From the early rounds to the Championship, TicketCity has your seat for all of the D1 volleyball action.

2021 Tournament Schedule

Round 2 – December 4th Schedule:

  • No. 7 Kentucky vs. Illinois | 5 p.m.
  • No. 1 Louisville vs. Ball State | 6 p.m.
  • No. 9 Ohio State vs. Tennessee | 6 p.m.
  • No. 3 Pitt vs. Penn State | 7 p.m.
  • No. 4 Wisconsin vs. FGCU | 7 p.m.
  • No. 8 Georgia Tech vs. Western Kentucky | 7 p.m.
  • No. 10 Nebraska vs. Florida State | 8 p.m.
  • No. 12 Minnesota vs. Stanford | 8 p.m.
  • No. 11 BYU vs. Utah | 9 p.m.
  • No. 13 UCLA vs. UCF | 10 p.m.
  • No. 15 Washington vs. Hawaii | 10 p.m.

All first and second round matches can be found on ESPN+.

Who do you have in the getting to the Regional round? Let us know in the comments below.