Penn State (22-9) is the No. 16 seed in the tournament. The Nittany Lions, who rank 23rd in the RPI, play Long Island University-Brooklyn (16-14) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round. The winner plays Dayton or Pittsburgh.
This is Dayton’s 12th NCAA tournament appearance and third in a row. It is 7-11 in the NCAA tournament.
At 30-1, Dayton has the best winning percentage in Division I. It has won 19 matches in a row since suffering its only loss, 3-0 to Loyola Marymount on Sept. 16.
Western Kentucky (30-2) is the only other team with 30 victories. Dayton ranks 27th in the RPI and 24th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
Pittsburgh (24-8), making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004, ranks 37th in the RPI and was not ranked in the AVCA poll. Dayton is 4-2 all time against Pittsburgh. The Panthers won the last meeting 3-0 in the second match of the 2014 season.
Dayton earned the Atlantic 10 Conference’s automatic bid by winning the conference tournament on Nov. 20, beating Saint Louis 3-2 in the final. By the time Dayton plays Friday, it will have had a 12-day break since its last match.
“Traditionally, we’ve played a match around Thanksgiving,” Horsmon said. “We didn’t this year. It’s been great for our kids. It’s a long season. To be able to give them a couple days off, it’s great for their bodies and their minds.”
The Miami Redhawks (24-6) also qualified for the tournament. They will play Oregon at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich.