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Lady Flames Draw No. 8 Seed Minnesota in NCAA 1st Round
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The Liberty volleyball team, the Big South tournament champion for the second year in a row, will take on national No. 8 seed Minnesota in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship's West Lafayette Regional.
Liberty (25-7) will travel to Minneapolis to face Minnesota (24-7), with the match taking place on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time inside the Sports Pavilion. The winner of the Liberty-Minnesota match will face the winner of Friday's 5:30 p.m. match between Creighton (28-3) and Marquette (27-6), Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Lady Flames earned their seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big South Volleyball Championship for the second year in a row, downing Coastal Carolina in the final on Nov. 18. Under the direction of ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder, Liberty has won the conference tournament in four out of the last six seasons, and seven times overall in program history.
Last year, Liberty met then four-time defending national champion Penn State in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship first round. The Lady Flames battled the Nittany Lions, before the hosts prevailed in three sets.
Liberty brings a 10-match winning streak into the national tournament, as the Lady Flames have won 25 matches for the fourth time in the last six years. Starting in 2007, Liberty has won 20 or more matches, made the conference final and won the Big South regular-season title six years running.
Minnesota, ranked No. 11 in the latest AVCA coaches poll, brings a 24-7 overall record into the postseason, tying Nebraska for second in the Big Ten with a 15-5 conference mark. The Golden Gophers are 13-1 on their home court this season, with their lone home loss coming to Penn State.
Minnesota's first-year head coach Hugh McCutcheon previously served as the head coach for the United States men's and women's national volleyball teams, highlighted by a 2008 Olympic gold medal for the men's squad and 2012 Olympic silver medal by the women's team.
The 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship Final Four will take place on Dec. 13 and 15 in Louisville, Ky.