Volleyball team selected for NCAA Division II Tournament
Watching her team prepare for the first game in school history back in August, Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball coach Jaye Flood hoped for one thing. She hoped the first-year program could be competitive. Baby steps. Walk. Then run. In four short months, the young Eagles have done more than that. The FGCU volleyball team is going dancing.
After accepting a bid to the 64-team NCAA Division II volleyball tournament, FGCU can now say they are among the most competitive teams in the nation. The 23-5 Eagles were selected as the number six seed in the South Region and will face third seed Tampa (24-5) in a first round match on Thursday at 12 p.m. in Miami Shores. The region will be a single-elimination, best three-of-five game matches.
“It’s an honor for us to be chosen for the NCAA tournament,” said Flood, whose team becomes the first FGCU squad to compete in a NCAA championship tournament. “Our players deserve this selection and have worked hard for it all year. At the beginning of the year we set making the NCAA’s as one of our goals. Now we need to work hard to prepare for an excellent Tampa team.”
The South Region tournament will be hosted November 18-20 by top-seeded Barry, the fifth-ranked team in the country with a 28-1 record. In all, eight teams were selected in each of eight different geographic regions. The regional winners will advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
Three conference champions - Barry (Sunshine State), North Florida (Peach Belt) and Presbyterian (South Atlantic) received automatic bids. The other at-large selections included Florida Southern, Armstrong Atlantic and Lenoir Rhyne. The Eagles are the only independent team selected for the tournament.
The top five seeds in the tournament are all currently ranked in the top-25 NCAA Division II National Poll. FGCU dropped a match 3-0 at ninth-ranked Tampa on October 13 but have rebounded to post a 9-1 mark since that loss. The Spartans were ranked ninth in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II poll.
The South Region semifinals are set for 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday with the regional final slated for Saturday at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $6 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. Children ages 2 to 12 are $2, Infants under two years of age are admitted free of charge. The Barry Sports & Health Center arena will open at 11 a.m.
QUARTERFINALS - Thursday
Match 1 12:00 pm #3 Tampa vs. #6 FGCU
Match 2 2:30 pm #2 No. Florida vs. #7 Presbyterian
Match 3 5:00 pm #4 Florida Southern vs. #5 Armstrong Atlantic
Match 4 7:30 pm #1 Barry vs. #8 Lenoir-Rhyne
SEMIFINALS - Friday
Match 5 5:00 pm Winner Match 1 vs Winner Match 2
Match 6 7:30 pm Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4
Winner Match 5 vs. Winner Match 6