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Washington State volleyball back for more at NCAA Tournament

NCAA selection shows in any sport make for great television.

A team’s name appears on a bracket, the screen cuts to a live shot of the pandemonium as players leap from their seats screaming and exchanging high-fives.

That scene, minus the TV cameras, unfolded Sunday night inside the Jerry Camp conference room in the Bohler Athletic Complex as Washington State made the 64-team NCAA volleyball tournament.

Coach Jen Greeny didn’t set a personal record for her vertical jump, but she allowed a minute or two to soak in the moment. This is WSU’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament, which hasn’t happened since 2001-02 when Greeny was an assistant coach.

“We definitely enjoyed it,” Greeny said of the coaching staff, which includes husband Burdette. “We’re really excited to be back in the tournament for the second straight year with all the challenges and injuries we had this year.

“It’s really exciting to see your name. From there, it’s, ‘OK, we have to figure out Florida State.’ ”

WSU (17-15, 6-14 Pac-12) was essentially a lock last year, but that wasn’t the case this time. Still, Greeny was “pretty confident” because of strong rankings/RPI (generally in the 30s) and strength of schedule (sixth).

“It’s fabulous for our program and these players that stuck through,” said Greeny, who has been part of eight of WSU’s 12 NCAA trips as a player, assistant or head coach. “That was the goal when Burdette and I took the job, to get the program back into the NCAA Tournament consistently, stable and going in the right direction.”

The Cougars open against the Seminoles (18-10, 12-8 ACC, tied for fifth) Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. No. 5 Nebraska takes on Stony Brook at 5.

The Cornhuskers have a huge following and routinely play in front of 8,000. New Nebraska A.D. Bill Moos hired Greeny when he was at WSU.

Junior outside hitter Taylor Mims leads WSU’s offense. She ranks fourth in single-season kills with 488. She converted from middle blocker where she was third in single-season blocks (191) last season.

Mims earned first-team All-Pac-12 recognition after being honorable mention in 2016.

“What an honor for her,” Greeny said. “It definitely shows what the other coaches in the conference thought of her. She’s done some great things taking on a really heavy load.”

Florida State has won its last six matches. The Seminoles have been to nine consecutive NCAA tournaments, including Sweet 16s in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The Cougars know all about tough competition. The Pac-12 has nine NCAA qualifiers, the most of any conference. Plus, the Cougars can draw on last year’s NCAA journey when they went 1-1.

“Florida State is solid and well-coached with a lot of experience going to the tournament,” Greeny said.

“They’re a very good team, but I don’t think it’ll be much different than what we see on a regular basis.”

Huskies host opener

Eighth-seeded Washington (24-7) is hosting LIU Brooklyn (20-9) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in its tournament opener.

The winner will advance to the second round against either Illinois (21-10) or Hawaii (20-7), who meet at 5.

Washington has made the Elite Eight in the past two seasons.

The Huskies have qualified for the tournament for 16 consecutive seasons, the eighth-longest active streak.

UW enters having won nine of its last 11 matches.


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