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Kentucky to face Dayton in first round of NCAA volleyball tournament

Following its fourth 20-win season in the last seven seasons, a top-20 national ranking for six straight weeks and a runner-up finish in the Southeastern Conference, Kentucky's volleyball team was selected for a school-record seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Wildcats (26-5) will first face Dayton (25-6) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in College Station, Texas.

"We're really excited to be in the tournament," UK Coach Craig Skinner said. "I think it's a wide open tournament this year and there are a lot of really good teams. I thought we'd be in, and I'm happy about the year to this point. It's a new season, and I'm looking forward to getting started down at A&M."

The host Aggies drew the No. 16 overall seed, and the fourth team in the region is the Atlantic Sun Champion in Lipscomb. Kentucky has never faced any of the squads during NCAA competition.

Kentucky will need win two matches in the College Station Regional to be able to return to Memorial Coliseum for the Lexington Regional on Dec. 9-10.

Dayton is making its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Flyers have advanced to the second round in consecutive seasons.

Three other state schools made it into the tournament — Western Kentucky, Morehead State and Louisville.

Western Kentucky will play Marquette at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Champaign, Ill.

Should the Lady Toppers (31-3) advance, they will face the winner of a match between Central Michigan (19-13) and host Illinois (27-4), who earned the No. 3 national seed. WKU earned the Sun Belt Conference's automatic bid to the tournament.

"They have been ranked No. 1 in the country for a good portion of the year," WKU Coach Travis Hudson said of Illinois. "But it is a great atmosphere and they do a great job hosting and we are looking forward to going back there."

Morehead State and Louisville will both open play in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Eagles (26-7) will face fifth-seeded Purdue (27-4) at 5:30 p.m. Friday and that match will be followed by a contest between Louisville (23-8) and Ball State (25-7).

The Cardinals earned an at-large bid after winning the Big East regular-season title.

"They will be the toughest ball control and defensive team we will face all year," U of L Coach Anne Kordes said of Ball State. "It is a very tough first round opponent but our first goal is to concentrate on preparing for Ball State because they are good, otherwise they wouldn't be in the tournament."