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SCORE: Hawaii 3, Mississippi State 2 (25-17 MSU, 25-14 UH, 25-13 UH, 25-21 MSU, 15-11 UH)
SEATTLE >> The Pacific Northwest has become a familiar postseason destination for the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball program.
After clinching the Big West championship and an NCAA Tournament berth a week ago, the Rainbow Wahine were assigned to the Seattle sub-regional for the fifth time since 2010 on Sunday and face Mississippi State in a first-round match today in Alaska Airlines Arena.
Today’s match will mark UH’s 39th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 28th in a row (not counting the canceled 2020-21 season) after closing the regular season at 21-7. The Rainbow Wahine went 16-2 in Big West play and closed the regular season with a five-set loss to UC Santa Barbara last Saturday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Mississippi State (25-5) enters its first NCAA Tournament berth in the program’s 47-year history with a second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference at 16-2. The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs broke into the AVCA coaches poll late in the season and carry a 13-match winning streak into the postseason.
The Rainbow Wahine and Bulldogs will meet for the first time and have one common opponent this season in SEC member Texas A&M. Hawaii swept the Aggies 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 on Aug. 29 to close the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic. Mississippi State won two four-set matches with Texas A&M on Oct. 23 and 24.
UH is led by Big West Player of Year Brooke Van Sickle (3.80 kills per set). Mississippi State right-side hitter Gabby Waden leads the Bulldogs with 3.41 kills per set on .331 hitting.
The winner of this afternoon’s match will face the winner of the 5 p.m. match between host and No. 15 national seed Washington and Brown. The second-round match is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday.
All NCAA Tournament matches will be streamed on ESPN+ (monthly subscription required).
The game begins at 2 p.m.