"We are excited to be in the tournament, we feel we deserve to be in it," said head coach Rob Browning. "We are looking forward to the challenge of playing San Diego State, who has had a great year and is a very strong team."
The Gaels will be making their sixth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, with previous appearances in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009.
"I'm definitely very excited, this is a new experience for me and we have reached one of our goals," said Kristina Graven. "We get to play some good teams and go as far as we can."
SMC's last trip to the Tournament in 2009 was held at Stanford as the Gaels advanced to the second-round. Saint Mary's defeated UC Santa Barbara in five sets, then nearly knocked off Stanford, falling to the Cardinal in five sets 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13.
"We had no expectations for who or where we would play," said Browning. "We knew that we would inevitably face a tough opponent like the Aztecs."
The Gaels enter the postseason battle tested with an RPI of 31. Saint Mary's faced 11 ranked opponents throughout the year, defeating nationally ranked BYU, San Diego and Pepperdine.
A total of six teams from the West Coast Conference earned bids in BYU, San Diego, Saint Mary's, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
"Our conference has been blatantly overlooked the past few years, starting in 2009 when we were the only team from the WCC to make it to the tourney," said Browning. "The teams from the WCC that made it deserve to be in it and will prove to be a tough match for their first round opponents. I'm happy for our seniors for whom this should probably be their fourth consecutive postseason appearance... I'm glad they get another shot at it."
Fans can purchase all-session passes through the USC ticket office online at www.GetTrojanTix.com or over the phone at (855) 937-5294. All-session passes are $15 for adults and $12 for students, children, and seniors. Single session tickets for either Thursday or Friday only can only be purchased at the Galen Center box office and are $10 for adults and $6 for students, children, and seniors. All tickets and passes are general admission seating. The USC Galen Center box office will open approximately 90 minutes before the first match on Thursday and at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.