8:16:47:Volleyball vs. Southern California

The Wildcats celebrate during UK volleyball’s game against Southern California on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Kentucky volleyball earned the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament during Sunday’s bracket reveal. 

Only the top 16 teams in the country receive seeds, while the rest of the field earns at-large bids. The seeds guarantee home field advantage for at least the first two rounds, three in Kentucky’s case.

The Wildcats won the SEC Championship and conference auto-bid last week, sweeping Florida 3-0 to clinch the title.

Kentucky finished its regular season 24-4, with a 17-1 conference record. The team’s lone SEC loss came against South Carolina on the road, while its non-conference losses came against Creighton, Wisconsin and Louisville early on. All four teams also heard their names called in the bracket, with Louisville clinching the No. 1 overall seed.

UK’s round one opponent is Southeast Missouri State (SEMO), who finished 26-7 and earned the auto-bid from the Ohio Valley Conference. The Redhawks were the only team from the OVC to make the tournament.

If Kentucky is successful against SEMO, the team will host the winner of Illinois and West Virginia, two at-large teams, with the Mountaineers earning their first ever at-large bid to the tournament.

Barring an upset in the first two rounds, Kentucky would then be paired against No. 10 Nebraska in the Sweet 16. The Cornhuskers finished 21-7 and earned an at-large bid into the tournament.

Continuing with the assumption that the bracket proceeds as chalked, the Elite Eight would feature a National Championship rematch between the Wildcats and this year’s No. 2 seed, Texas.

UK beat the Longhorns in four sets to claim its first National Championship in program history in last year’s tournament.

The road has been mapped for Kentucky volleyball as the team seeks its second straight National Championship. Kentucky will host SEMO at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, in Memorial Coliseum.