UWF volleyball travels south in opening round of NCAA Regionals
By Tyler Wood
The University of West Florida volleyball team earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Division-II South Region after taking home the Gulf South Conference Championship and will travel to West Palm Beach Thursday to face the No. 4 seed Florida Southern Mocs.
The Argos (25-7) dominated the GSC en route to a 15-1 conference record, earning an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
The Mocs (21-10) notched their ninth straight NCAA tournament bid after upsetting ninth-ranked Tampa University three sets to one on Saturday.
Florida Southern’s home-court advantage led the Mocs to a 13-1 record at the George W. Jenkins Field House despite a 4-7 record on the road.
The Argos will be without all-conference middle blocker Mackenzie Chrisman for the postseason due to a knee injury sustained during the GSC championship game against West Alabama on Sunday.
Coach Melissa Wolter said the roster’s depth helped seal the conference title and will be vital to the team’s success going forward in pursuit of a national championship run.
“We have the advantage with the depth that we have,” Wolter said. “I have complete faith that at any given moment we can throw somebody in.”
Senior outside hitter Nadine Williams echoed Wolter’s sentiment, praising her teammates for taking on new roles for the betterment of the team.
“Our team is so great and the girls have been so good at accepting their roles,” Williams said. “The girls that don’t play, just because you don’t know their names, doesn’t mean that they don’t play a huge part for us.”
The Argos and Mocs are no strangers to one another, as the South Region Crossover Tournament in October pitted the two against each other. The Mocs swept the match 3-0 and now lead the all-time series 10-6, but the Argos finished the season on a seven-game winning streak and plan to ride the momentum into Thursday’s match.
Williams said the Argos will lean on their chemistry and depth to carry them into the South Region Tournament against the Mocs.
“We could not be here without everyone,” Williams said. “They make us better every day.”
The Argos and Mocs will square off at 5 p.m. at the Rubin Arena in West Palm Beach.