Finally spring season is here and we can tune into watching competitive volleyball. It's the same season just at a different time and we're ready for it! The regular season will be from January 22nd to April 3rd with selections for top teams on April 4th. The final competition for the NCAA tournament is scheduled to be played April 22nd-24th.
A few Division I Volleyball Conferences have announced their schedules for spring volleyball:
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
- ACC had a fall schedule of of eight conference matches and will have a spring conference plan with 10 league matches.
Big Ten Conference
- The Big 10 has 22-schedule match plan, Big 12 will make up games that were postponed from the fall.
- The Southeastern Conference, SEC, announced its scheduled earlier this year. Each school will compete against eight opponents, twice in the same week on back-to-back days.
- Matches may be played Wednesday/Thursday, Thursday/Friday, Friday/Saturday, or Saturday/Sunday.
Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
- The Southwestern Athletic Conference, SWAC, will play a 13-match conference schedule. They have announced that they are prepared to make any adjustments necessary for the health and safety of all participating in the conference.
Most other conferences like the Sun Belt Conference, Pac 12, and others are following a similar plan for this different spring season that should have taken place in the fall. Some other conferences played already in the fall but a lot of teams are participating in this spring make-up season.
Where will the NCAA Volleyball Tournament be held?
The NCAA tournament is scheduled to take place in Omaha, Nebraska - the city that was supposed to host the semifinals and finals last year.
Volleyball will not be the only NCAA championship to take place in Omaha this spring. The NCAA Bowling and Women's Hockey Championships will be played there, along with the Men's College World Series in June.
How many teams will earn an invite to the tournament?
The tournament will have 48 teams this year instead of the usual 64, meaning that there will be fewer at large teams than in the past. First-round matches will take place on April 13th, second-round matches following on April 14th, semifinals on April 17th, and finals on the 19th.
Among the conferences that normally have one of the 32 automatic bids, two aren't competing. The Big West, which includes Hawaii and Long Beach State, chose to forego a 2021 spring volleyball season. The Ivy League chose to cancel their sports seasons in the spring of 2021 as well.
Without Conference Tournaments or out-of-conference games, how will the teams be chosen?
Because some of the top teams will not be facing each other the plan for the tournament will need to be different. T.J. Meagher, chair of the D1 NCAA Women's Volleyball Committee commented,
"We have always had our traditional criteria that we evaluate, a program's resume as it relates to getting an at-large bid. Obviously automatic bids are awarded by the conference as who they determine to be their conference champion. So our focus is really on those that have not won their conference, but have put together a season that merits a spot in the tournament ... It is really on the committee to give it our best effort to determine the teams that have earned an opportunity to represent their schools in the tournament."
With leagues playing at different times and few non-conference matches the selection committee will have a hard time pulling up a plan from a smaller field in a year where the standings won't be as accurate.
We're excited to watch the players compete at a high level and finally play after all the hard work and effort from the players and coaches. -