COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears begin their second straight trip to the NCAA volleyball tournament Friday against Purdue.
The Sugar Bears (29-3) and the Boilermakers (20-11) will play at 4:30 p.m. at the University of Missouri’s Hearns Center. The winner will play the IUPUI-Missouri winner Saturday night for the right to advance to the regional finals at Champaign, Ill.
This will mark the first-ever matchup between the two schools. Purdue is 11-7 against Southland schools, while Central Arkansas is 1-0 against the Big Ten, with the only match coming in 2011 against Northwestern.
Central Arkansas is coming off its second consecutive Southland tournament title. UCA has won 22 consecutive matches. UCA has won 17 matches in straight sets and only had two matches go five sets. Central Arkansas led the conference with three first-team all-conference selection as Marissa Collins was named player and setter of the year. Collins was also the tournament MVP and was joined by Jessica Nagy and Heather Schnars on the all-tournament team. The Sugar Bears are in the top-15 nationally in aces per set (15th) and winning percentage (eighth).
Purdue finished the regular season sixth in the Big Ten with a 20-11 record and is on a four- match winning streak heading into the postseason. The Boilermakers are one of eight Big Ten representatives in the NCAA tournament and one of five Big Ten schools to receive a top-16 seed. Purdue got off to a 1-2 start before winning its next eight matches. Purdue is making its ninth overall and fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Boilermakers currently sit 27th in the RPI rankings. UCA is 45th.