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Missouri State set to take on Mizzou in NCAA Tournament

The Missouri State volleyball team earned the Missouri Valley Conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament and will play the 10th-ranked University of Missouri Tigers in the first round Friday at 7:30 p.m., in Columbia, Mo.

Mike Smith has the story:

Missouri State defeated 23rd-ranked Wichita State, 3-0 (30-24, 30-28, 30- 20), Saturday night in the championship match of the State Farm MVC Championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Katie Werges of Missouri State was the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tourney team by Sarah Lansing and Erin O'Connor. The Shockers were not chosen for an at-large bid, depite going 28-3 during the season and being ranked in the AVCA Coaches' Poll last week.

The Bears of head coach Melissa Stokes, 24-8 on the season, are making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, and their second in the last three years.

The Missouri Tigers are 22-4 on the season and finished third in the Big 12 Conference with a 16-4 league mark. Missouri State holds a 42-6-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Tigers. The last time the Bears hooked up with Missouri was in 1998 at Missouri.

Missouri enters the tournament as the 10th seed nationally. Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were Nebraska, Penn State, Washington and Arizona.

The other two teams in MSU's Columbia bracket are Arkansas and St. Mary's (Calif.). Friday's winners will meet in the second round match in Columbia at 5:30 p.m., Saturday.

Missouri State defeated Arkansas early this season in the Results Advertising Missouri State Classic, 3-1, in Springfield. The Bears are 2-9 all-time against the Lady'Backs and fell to Arkansas, 1-3, in MSU's last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003. Arkansas is 20-11 on the season. Missouri State has never faced St. Mary's. The Gaels are 19-9 on the season and defeated Pacific, 3-2, in the Pacific Tournament on Saturday night to earn their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

A fan bus is available for anyone wanting to travel to Columbia, Mo., to see the Missouri State volleyball team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the University of Missouri Friday night, the Missouri State athletics department announced Monday.

The bus will depart at noon on Friday, Dec. 2, from the Park and Ride on the Missouri State campus west of the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts and will return after the conclusion of the match on Friday. Another bus will be made available on Saturday if Missouri State advances to the second round. The bus will depart at 12 noon on Saturday for the match at 5:30 p.m.

Missouri State will face the University of Missouri at 7:30 p.m. Friday after a 5:30 p.m. first round match between Arkansas and St. Mary's. The second round match between the two winners will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbia.

The cost of the trip, which will include a ticket to the game, will be $38 and reservations must be made by 12 noon on Thursday, Dec. 1. To make reservations, fans should call Judy Slothower in the Missouri State athletics department at (417) 836-5246.

The bus will arrive in Columbia in time for a quick dinner and will travel to the Hearnes Center for the first round match between Arkansas and St. Mary's.

Individual match tickets will also be available to Bear fans for $7 each and can be purchased by contacting the Missouri State Athletics Ticket Office at (417) 836-7868 or toll-free at (888) 476-7849. Individual tickets must also be purchased by 12 noon on Thursday, Dec. 1. Tickets will be picked up at will call at the Hearnes Center.