ESPN announcers now set for whole NCAA volleyball tournament

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A day after volleyball coaches criticized ESPN’s coverage plans for the NCAA tournament, the cable television network reversed course and announced Friday there would be commentators for all matches streamed on its digital platforms.

ESPN’s original plan was to stream the first- and second-round matches with no play-by-play announcers or analysts. Several coaches, including Kelly Sheffield of top-seeded Wisconsin, complained publicly that having no announcers would diminish the stature of the tournament.

The NCAA said Thursday night that ESPN was not contractually required to provide any coverage for the first and second rounds. ESPN will be providing coverage for all rounds for the first time this year.

“Despite the variety of challenges related to the pandemic, all 47 matches will be live on an ESPN platform and will include commentators,” the network said in a statement.

The tournament starts Wednesday and will be held at the CHI Health Center, with the first two rounds and regional semifinals played in the facility’s convention center. The regional final, national semifinals and championship match will be played in the adjoining arena.

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