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Proposal moving forward to play NCAA volleyball tournament in April
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HUSKER VOLLEYBALL

Proposal moving forward to play NCAA volleyball tournament in April

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Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, 12.14

Nebraska middle blocker Lauren Stivrins (center left) and outside hitter Anezka Szabo (center right) gather before an NCAA regional final against Wisconsin on Dec. 14, 2019, at UW Field House in Madison, Wis.

Under a proposal one step from being approved, the Nebraska volleyball team would be playing a season that begins in January and ends in late April.

On Wednesday, the NCAA Division I Council approved a package of proposals to move the 2020 fall championships to the spring of 2021. The recommendations now go to the Division I Board of Directors for approval.

With this plan, the volleyball regular season would run from Jan. 22 to April 10, with the NCAA Tournament selection show on April 11.

The NCAA Final Four would take place on April 23-25. The Final Four was scheduled to be in Omaha in December, and the city may still be the host in the spring.

The tournament field would be reduced from 64 teams to 48, with 32 automatic qualifiers and 16 at-large selections.

Last month the Big Ten Conference postponed the volleyball season due to COVID-19 in a move that many league volleyball coaches support, including Nebraska’s John Cook.

While some conferences — including the Big 12 and SEC — will play a split season with matches in both the fall and spring in order to be able to play in the rescheduled NCAA Tournament, it appears that the Big Ten schools will only play matches during the spring semester.

In other format changes for the NCAA Tournament, the Board of Governors has directed that all sites of each championship be predetermined and that the number of sites for preliminary rounds be reduced to support health, safety and operational management of the championships for this season.

Part of the proposal for several fall sports are that midyear enrollees be prohibited from competing in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Nebraska volleyball team has two high school seniors — Kennedi Orr and Lexi Rodriguez — who are scheduled to graduate from high school early and join the team in January. Under the proposal, they could practice with the team but not play in matches.

For the Nebraska soccer team, the regular season would be played from Feb. 3 to April 24, with the 48-team NCAA tournament to follow. The championship match would be on May 17.

For cross country, the championships are scheduled for March 15. However, there is some concern about conducting cross country, indoor track and outdoor track in the spring term. The Division I Competition Oversight Committee will continue to evaluate the issue.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Husker volleyball/women's basketball reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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