Two-time Northwest Conference champion Whitworth University will have a little better travel conditions for its second straight trip to the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament.
The Pirates, 19-6 and ranked 23rd in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, will travel to Thousand Oaks, Calif., for a first-round regional match Friday at 8 p.m. against the host school, 15th-ranked California Lutheran (26-6).
Last year, Whitworth was sent to St. Paul, Minn., for the regional round. The Pirates were 1-1 and are 4-4 all-time in four D-III national appearances.
Three other ranked teams are in the eight-team field, including NWC runner-up Pacific Lutheran (25-1), which is ranked 22nd and received an at-large bid. The Lutes will play Occidental (21-8).
Other first-round matches: No. 13 Colorado College (31-6) vs. Hardin-Simmons (25-5) and No. 6 Southwestern (29-3) vs. Chapman (23-8).
There’s no postseason party for the Whitworth University men. The Pirates were snubbed when the NCAA sent out its Division III invitations.
Whitworth (14-3-1) claimed a share of a fourth straight Northwest Conference championship, but Pacific Lutheran, with whom the Pirates tied, earned the league’s automatic national berth by sweeping the regular-season series with the Whits.
The Pirates needed at-large invitation to get in.
PLU will play at Redlands in a first-round match on Saturday.
Idaho senior outside hitter Alicia Milo is the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
Milo, who gives the Vandals a third POW award this season, had a career-high 28 kills and 17 digs for her sixth double-double of the season as UI came from behind to defeat Utah State in its only match last week.