AT LAST! Gamecock Volleyball Earns First Trip to NCAA Tournament in 16 Years
South Carolina will take on Colorado in the first round on Friday, Nov. 30
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team celebrated its first NCAA tournament bid in 16 years on Sunday night. The Gamecocks were selected for the program’s eighth NCAA tournament in 46 years, and will play Colorado (18-13) on Friday, Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
The match will be played at the Maturi Pavilion, home court for the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers (25-3) host the first two rounds of the tournament in Minneapolis, having earned the number two overall seed in the tournament.
“This is an exciting moment, we’re really proud and excited and happy for our student-athletes,” first-year head coach Tom Mendoza said. “Looking at what this group has been through this year and in years passed I think they’re definitely deserving, not just from the resume they put together as far as wins and losses but the way that they’ve worked together as a group.”
The program’s last postseason berth of any kind came in 2002, under head coach Kim Williams. The Gamecocks are 4-7 all-time in the national tournament, advancing to the second round in four of seven trips.
The Gamecocks finished the year with a 19-9 overall record and a 10-8 mark in SEC play, both win totals were the highest since 2008. With a RPI of 32 and strength of schedule that also ranked in the mid-30s, the team is ready for a shot at the postseason.
“We’ve always wanted to be here and we finally get this night and to be here is almost breath-taking,” senior Aubrey Ezell said. “This really is the dream, but it’s not over, we still have to play and keep going as far as we can in the tournament but just to be here out of all the teams that wanted to be here… just to be picked was amazing.”
“It’s something that we’ve talked about, looked forward to, and worked hard for… it’s all been leading up to this and I’m so excited for our team this year,” added junior Mikayla Shields. “This is something new to us, but it’s not new to our coaching staff, so going into this next week and preparing for this game is going to be an exercise in settling ourselves and following what we know our coaches have done and really focusing in and grind it out until we can go play in Minnesota.”
This will be the second meeting ever with the Buffaloes, the previous coming back in 1989. Colorado finished 18-13 overall with a 10-10 record in the Pac-12 conference. It made the round of 16 in the 2017 tournament, beating James Madison and Baylor before losing to the eventual national champion Nebraska.
The winner of the first-round match will play the winner of Minnesota and Bryant (22-12). The SEC sent five teams to the tournament this season, the most since 2014.
For more information on the team’s trip to the tournament, follow along on Twitter and Instagram @GamecockVolley. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday.