MADISON – For the first time since 2007, the Wisconsin volleyball team will compete in the NCAA tournament. The 13th-ranked Badgers (23-9) were selected as the No. 12 seed in the 2013 NCAA Championship as an at-large selection and will host first-round and second-round matches on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7 in the UW Field House.
"I don't care if you're the No. 1 seed or the No. 64 team coming in here, going to the NCAA tournament is special," first-year head coach Kelly Sheffield said. "Only 64 teams out of the 330 teams are still playing so we're really excited to extend our season.
"We're excited to play in front of our home fans at least one more time. This team has been through a lot this year and we've made it through the regular season. Our players are fired up."
The Badgers will host North Carolina (27-4), California (17-12) and Milwaukee (18-10) in first and second round action. UNC and Cal will play the opening match at 5 p.m. on Friday while Wisconsin takes on UWM in the second match at 7:30 p.m. Winners will advance to the second-round match on Saturday at 6 p.m. The second-round winner will advance to the Champaign, Ill., Regional on Dec. 13-14.
"It was a really bittersweet moment, hearing all my teammates being excited for the first time being in the tournament," said senior Annemarie Hickey on the announcement. "(I'm) really excited that we got this 12th-seed and being back home."
"I think going into this weekend, we have a lot of momentum. I think we're really pumped to see our next level of volleyball and where it's going to take us."
All-session ticket packages will go on sale at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. Only all-session tickets are available in advance with single-session tickets on sale on Friday, Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. Reserved all-session tickets are $14, adult general admission seats are $12 and youth/college student/senior general admission tickets are $8.
The Badgers are 29-16 (.644) in 16 NCAA tournament appearances. Wisconsin has hosted first and second-round matches 13 times with the most recent hosting coming in 2007. UW is 14-1 in first-round matches and has advanced to regional action 10 years.
"We're playing good volleyball right now but we know we haven't played our best," said Sheffield. "Hopefully, that's sometime to come in the days in front of us.
"Milwaukee is a really, really good team. They're talented and quick and defensively they are really good in the back court. Cal and North Carolina are two really good teams that are battle tested. (It) should be a really good pod of four teams. Our fans should be treated to some really good volleyball."
The Badgers downed the Panthers 3-1 in the InnTowner Invitational on Sept. 14 in the UW Field House. Milwaukee is making it 10th NCAA Tournament appearance, going 0-9, after winning the 2013 Horizon League Tournament title.
North Carolina and California meet for the third-straight year in the tournament. UNC won 3-1 last season before falling to Iowa State 3-2 in the second round. The Tar Heels are making their 15th NCAA appearance and are 9-14 all time. UNC finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 16-4.
California is making it 21st appearance in the tournament and is 29-20 all time. The Bears tied for fifth in the Pac-12 standings at 10-10.