Minnesota chosen as host site for 2009 NCAA volleyball regionals

Having one of the top volleyball programs, fan followings and venues in the country have once again paid off for the Minnesota volleyball program and University.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that Minnesota will be a host for the 2009 NCAA regionals on Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12. This will be the third time the Minnesota volleyball program has had the opportunity to host the regionals, the last in 2004.

“Ever since the great experience of hosting a regional in 2004 we have looked forward to the opportunity to do it again, and we are extremely excited to get that chance in 2009,” Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert said in a release Wednesday. “We would like to thank Associate Athletic Director Marc Ryan and all the people who helped prepare the bid to help make this opportunity possible.”

For the upcoming 2008 season, Colorado State, Penn State, Texas and Washington will be host sites for the tournament. Minnesota, Florida, Stanford and Nebraska will then take the over regional responsibilities in 2009.

All schools are undoubtedly considered national powerhouses when it comes to collegiate volleyball.

“ÖThis selection process is often based on attendance and how well the community attends the event. Receiving the opportunity to host the 2009 NCAA regionals is a reflection of what a great volleyball community we have in the Twin Cities, and what a good job our fans have done supporting the program,” Hebert said.

“In 2004, we had the chance to host one of the most exciting regionals in the history of the NCAA tournament, and we can only hope that 2009 creates that type of excitement both on and off the court, for all the players, coaches and spectators.”

Minnesota will certainly be looking to makes runs at both the 2008 and 2009 NCAA tournament.

Coming off a historically sub-par season for Minnesota volleyball, the Gophers still managed to squeak into the Tournament for its ninth consecutive appearance becoming one of just 13 teams with a streak of nine or more. However, the Gophers were bounced in the first round by Sacramento State, capping off a very tough 18-13 season.

A batch of new recruits as well as a small yet talented group of returners will look to get back to the ways of old this fall.

Minnesota has reached the NCAA regionals in six of the last nine seasons, and played in back-to-back national semifinals in 2003 and 2004.