Stanford, the only women's water polo program that has competed at every NCAA Championship since its inception in 2001, will make its 16th straight appearance in 2016. The Cardinal earned an at-large berth to the field when the NCAA Women's Water Polo Committee announced the bracket on Monday evening.
Ten teams will be vying for the 2015 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship. The top six teams have been placed in the bracket; the remaining four teams will compete for the last two berths in the bracket via two play-in games.
The play-in games will be conducted May 10 at UC San Diego. The winners will advance to the championship, which will be held May 13-15 at the Spieker Aquatics Center with UCLA serving as the host institution. The 2016 championship will be an eight-team, single-elimination tournament (12 games), with a losers' bracket to determine places three through eight.
The Cardinal will begin its tournament on Friday, May 13 at 1:45 p.m. against UC Santa Barbara (18-12), champions of the Big West. The winner will advance to a Saturday semifinal against the victor of the tournament's first game between UCLA (24-4) and either UC San Diego (26-9) or Whittier (25-7). Those two will meet in one play-in, while the other will pit San Diego State (16-16) against Wagner (29-9).
Stanford will be looking for its fifth national championship in the past six seasons and sixth in program history. The Cardinal has advanced to the title game each of the past six years, winning it all in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Stanford, 21-5 overall this season, has accumulated a record of 180-17 (.914) since 2010.
The play-in winner of San Diego State and Wagner will be placed in the championship bracket to play USC (23-0) in Game 3 on May 13 at 3:30 p.m. Rounding out the bracket will be Michigan (22-5) facing Arizona State (19-7) in Game 4 (5:15 p.m.). Game 1 between the host Bruins and the winner of UCSD and Whittier kicks off the tournament at noon.