The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears, Southland Conference champions and winners of 30 games, are headed to the Pacific Northwest for the NCAA Division I volleyball tournament.

The Sugar Bears (30-4) will take on 13th-seeded Washington at 9 p.m. (CT) Friday in Seattle in a first-round game.

" I’m really excited for our team, the fans that follow us, and for Central Arkansas," said coach David McFatrich after the announcement on the selection show Sunday. "Washington is a very good blocking team; they play in the best volleyball conference in the country. We did not expect to go that far. We were expecting Kansas or Kentucky, but the committee decided for us to go to Seattle, and we’ll definitely take it. We need to get out there as early as we can, so we can get acclimated to the time difference."

 "It’s exciting, it’s new, we haven’t done it before, but we’re all just really excited about it," said Taylor Hammonds, a senior middle blocker All we really know about Washington is that it’s far away."

The other two teams in the Washington regional are Hawaii and UC-Santa Clara. The Seattle regional is paired on the overall bracket with the Omaha regional, hosted by fourth-seeded Nebraska, and featuring Kansas State, Northern Iowa, and Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Here's the link to the full bracket:

http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/volleyball-women/d1

Here's a link to a feature on UCA star Jessica Hays, the MVP of the Southland Conference tournament:

http://thecabin.net/sports/college/bears/2012-11-24/hays-best-net-leading-sugar-bears

Here is a link to an earlier column about UCA winning the SLC title:

http://thecabin.net/sports/college/bears/2012-11-20/mccollums-column-sugar-bear-triumph-punctuates-another-sport-uca