The Missouri State volleyball team (22-8, 15-3 Missouri Valley Conference) earned an at-large bid into its seventh NCAA Tournament in the last nine seasons and will begin play against the No. 15 overall seed Pepperdine (22-6, 15-1 West Coast Conference) at 9:30 p.m. Central on Thursday in Malibu, Calif.
The other two teams in Malibu are California (26-6, 16-6 Pac-12) and North Carolina (23-8, 15-5 Atlantic Coast Conference). Cal and UNC play at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the first-round winners are scheduled to play at 9 p.m. Friday for the right to advance to the third and fourth rounds in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The regional is set up to be an offensive showcase, as all four teams rank in the top 27 nationally this week in terms of kills per set. Pepperdine is 22-6 overall and won the West Coast Conference with a 15-1 record. The Bears have played one WCC team this season, losing at second-place San Diego in the second weekend of the season. The No. 15 overall seed Waves boast the WCC Coach, Player and Freshman of the Year along with four first-team all-conference picks and hit .251 as a team with averages of 14.34 kills, 1.31 aces, 15.85 digs and 2.62 blocks per set. Pepperdine is making its 21st NCAA appearance with a 14-20 overall record.