- Created: Thursday, 17 November 2022 05:45
By RICK PETERSON
No. 15-ranked Washburn University volleyball, last season's national runnerup, will be looking to defend its NCAA Central Region title this weekend in Wayne, Neb. as the Ichabods make their 17th trip to the NCAA tournament.
Washburn, coming off its first-ever MIAA Tournament championship, will open this year's postseason bid against No. 6-ranked Minnesota Duluth in a 12 p.m. Friday quarterfinal.
The Ichabods (24-7) are the regional tournament's No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 seed Minnesota Duluth (26-4). The Bulldogs fell in the NSIC semifinal against Concordia-St. Paul last week.
After losing their regular-season finale to Misouri Western, the Ichabods bounced back in a big way in the MIAA Tournament, defeating three straight nationally-ranked teams.
"We got an opportunity to show ourselves and show everybody that it wasn't necessarily about what happened in the past,'' Washburn libero Sydney Pullen said. "We had a new opportunity and we got to capitalize on that and it worked out well for us. We had a lot of fun.''
Washburn coach Chris Herron said his team did a great job of putting the pressure aside in the conference tournament and will try to do the same thing this week.
"We kept using the term, 'We're playing with house money here,' '' Herron said. "We played with no fear, we played loose. We danced a lot and there was lots of singing.
"Shayla (Conner, WU assistant) and the rest of our staff do an incredible job of keeping the team lose. They've done a really good job of keeping our kids ready.''
According to the regional seedings, Washburn is an underdog again this week, but Herron said the Ichabods can't worry about that.
"We're going to play really, really hard and then we're going to feel good about ourselves when we leave the building,'' he said.
"We have nothing to lose so we might as well give it our all,'' Pullen said.