The Minnesota State University Moorhead women's basketball team is headed to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year and sixth time in program history and will face a familiar foe to open play. MSUM is the No. 5 seed in the Central Region and will face fourth-seeded Minnesota Duluth in the opening round on Friday.
Fort Hays State (Kan.) is the top seed and host team for the 2019 NCAA Central Region tournament. Game times will be posted as soon they are announced.
MSUM will meet UMD for a fourth time in 2018-19 — each team won on its home court while the Bulldogs edged MSUM 52-48 in the NSIC tournament championship last Tuesday.
All six NCAA appearances have come under Head Coach Karla Nelson, who guided MSUM to a third straight NSIC regular season title in 2018-19. MSUM also has won an unprecedented four NSIC North division titles.
Three Dragon players — senior guard Jacky Volkert and junior forwards Madi Green and Megan Hintz — will play in their third straight NCAA tournament. It is the first time in program history MSUM has qualified for the NCAA tournament in three straight years.
"It's very exciting knowing we have another shot," Green said. "We've worked hard all season to get here. The past two years of making it to the NCAA tournament we haven't played our best basketball, but I think after that experience we know what it's going to take and will continue to give it all we got this season. Our goal is to play our best team basketball and win it all."
"Having the opportunity to compete in the national tournament for three years in a row is incredibly exciting because it is not something everyone and every team gets to do," Volkert said. "Being that it's my third year participating in this tournament, I feel mentally and physically prepared to compete during this final chapter of my basketball career. However, basketball is not just about one person! Thus, I am excited to share this experience with my younger teammates and help them prepare for this year's tournament as well as future NCAA appearances. Unfortunately, we have not always performed our best in this tournament. So, with that being said, this year our goal is to win some games regardless of who we play."
MSUM has set a single-season school record with 26 wins this season. The Dragons were ranked in the top 25 on two occasions this season.
Volkert, Hintz and sophomore Kiley Borowicz were All-NSIC First Team selections for the Dragons this past season. Hintz and Volkert both surpassed 1,000 points for their Dragon careers.
"I specifically remember talking with Coach in her office after we lost to Central Missouri last year," Hintz said. "She said we may never make it back to the regional tourney in my career and that really stuck with me... so the goal has always been able to make it back. Postseason play is truly the best time of the year. The goal this year is for all of us to show up and compete to win games down there.
We also need to go into the tournament with a tough mindset."
Volkert, the only senior on the roster, is MSUM's all-time leader in assists and is now in the top 10 in scoring.
"To keep us focused, Coach reminds us that we may never be in the same position again," Volkert said. "It is important to capitalize on this opportunity by playing hard and having fun."