Photo courtesy UTEP
The UTEP volleyball team will participate in the postseason for the first time in the program’s history, having received an invitation as part of an automatic bid to play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
UTEP will face off against former Conference USA foe Tulsa on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m. MT, on the campus of Colorado State in the opening round, with the winner advancing to play either Houston Baptist or CSU.
“I’m excited and finally seeing who we are playing and knowing where we’re going is really fun,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “For any aspiring program, no matter what sport you’re in, the ultimate goal is to make it into the NCAA Tournament. We really fought hard this year and improved our program’s prestige by a lot. We fell short of our goal – making it into the NCAA Tournament – but the fact that we were selected into an invitational tournament and chosen as a top-seed team is a really cool thing.”
The Year of Firsts
The Miners went 21-7 this season, marking one of the best efforts thus far in program history. This season, UTEP accomplished its first win over a Big 10 foe, the first home win versus a Power 5 school since 1995, the first sweep over a Power 5 school since 1985, and the first time with two Power 5 wins on the same day.
UTEP features C-USA All-Conference First Team member in Serena Patterson, C-USA All-Conference Second Team member Alianza Darley and C-USA All-Freshman Team member Ema Uskokovic.
“Now we have to go put up,” Wallis said. “We got to go play hard, got to go win these matches and give ourselves a chance to win this thing.”
The tournament is a single-elimination event with all matches played at sites of host schools. The NIVC is committed to offering deserved opportunities to women’s volleyball programs, and the 2019 Postseason NIVC featured a full 32-team bracket.
The tournament was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19.
2021 NIVC Schedule – The NIVC is composed of a 31-team bracket.
Rounds 1 & 2 – Dec. 2-5
Round 3 – Dec. 6-8
Semifinals – Dec. 8-11
Championship – Dec. 13 or 14