COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri volleyball team received an at-large bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I volleyball championships Sunday afternoon, the sixth consecutive postseason berth for the program.
No. 25 Missouri (15-7) will open against South Dakota (15-6) at 11 a.m. April 14, with the winner advancing to face No. 9 national seed Ohio State (15-3) at 11 a.m. April 15.
All 16 national seeds were given first-round byes, and the first two rounds will be streamed on ESPN3.
The tournament will be played in Omaha, Neb., removing first- and second-round hosting advantages from national seeds. Regionals will be played April 18-19, and the semifinals (April 22) and championship match (April 24) will take place at CHI Health Center in Omaha and be televised on ESPN2.
No tournament was held in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and this year's tournament field was trimmed from 64 teams to 48.
The 2020-21 NCAA volleyball season featured a regular-season schedule split between the fall and spring. The Tigers won seven of their final 10 matches to close out the spring half of the season, with a 3-1 loss to South Carolina and 3-2 and 3-0 losses to Florida, which received the No. 8 national seed in the same region as Missouri.
Missouri finished third in the SEC, as all matches were conference matches, behind the Gators (19-3) and No. 2 national seed Kentucky (19-1). Since the SEC merged East and West divisions beginning in the 2013 season, the Tigers have finished fourth or better in 7-of-8 seasons, including an undefeated conference title in 2013, a shared conference title with Florida in 2016 and a runner-up finish to Texas A&M in 2015.
Earlier in the day, three Missouri players were selected to the all-SEC team. Senior outside hitter Kylie Deberg received her third consecutive honor, redshirt junior setter Andrea Fuentes was honored for the second straight year and sophomore Anna Dixon received her first All-SEC honor after transferring from Kansas State.
Deberg led the SEC in total kills (400) and kills per set (4.71) this season, as well as total points (468) and service aces (40). She finished second nationally in aces and third in kills and total points. Fuentes averaged 10.16 assists per set, fourth in the league, and Dickson's 254 kills and 275.5 total points were both good for 11th in the SEC.
Sunday marked the ninth consecutive year the Tigers have had three or more all-SEC volleyball honorees.
Missouri's biggest weakness this season has been its frontline net defense, as opponents are hitting .248, 10th in the SEC and 278th nationally.
The Tigers lost one of the SEC's best defenders, middle blocker Tyanna Omazic, for the season in the first set of a match Oct. 28 against Kentucky after she tore her left ACL and PCL.
Omazic had been averaging 1.38 blocks per set in eight sets, which would have been second in the SEC and 24th nationally if she had sustained that production for the full season, as well as third in program history for blocks per set in a single season.