The Cougars have been selected as the fifth seed in the West Region and are ready to take on a new challenge
After an outstanding regular season, Azusa Pacific’s volleyball team is headed to the NCAA playoffs for the first time in school history.
With a 22-6 overall record, the Cougars were selected as the fifth-seed of eight teams in the West Region on Monday afternoon. They will play against fourth-seed Cal State San Bernardino in the first round on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. The West Region will be hosted by first-seeded Cal Baptist in Riverside, Calif.
Live reaction from @APUVolleyball as they officially make their first appearance in the @NCAADII postseason. The Cougars (22-6) come in as the 5th seed in the West Region and will take on 4th seed Cal State San Bernardino (21-7) in the first round. pic.twitter.com/eVKPdr1IaO
— Brandon Rodriguez (@Broddy78) November 21, 2017
Head coach Chris Keife stated that this is something that his team has been working towards since first joining the NCAA.
“It’s been a process for us. We’ve been trying to build this up ever since we got into the NCAA, trying to establish a good foundation and engage where we need to be to get to the level of making the postseason,” Keife said. “It’s been a consistent year of playing good volleyball. Overall, I’m really proud of the girls for being able to sustain that youth and high level of play.”
Sophomore libero Bailey Henington expressed that it is exciting to be part of APU athletic history in becoming the first Cougars’ volleyball team to make it the NCAA playoffs.
“It is absolutely amazing, and I am so excited to be here. It’s something so special with this team, just being the first from APU volleyball to get there—it’s so exciting and I think we’re going to do really well,” Henington said.
The last time APU volleyball made the playoffs was in 2013, where they made it to the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Championship.
This is an impressive accomplishment for the Cougars, considering their youth. This year’s team is made up of only four juniors, 12 underclassmen and no seniors.
“There’s a lot of maturity despite our youth. I’m really proud of our team this year and our growth,” junior outside hitter Natalie Klapp said.
Postseason volleyball is new territory for all of APU’s players, but they are looking forward to playing new competition.
“[Making postseason] feels awesome. None of us have done this before, so none of us are used to this. It’s kind of this uncharted territory, but we’re super excited,” Klapp said. “We’re looking forward to the excitement of a new experience and really good competition. It’s going to be fun and we’re up for the challenge.”
Also making it into the West Region are No. 2 Western Washington, No. 3 Northwest Nazarene, No. 6 Central Washington, No. 7 Alaska Anchorage and No. 8 Sonoma State.
All 64 teams selected to the NCAA Division II tournament will compete on Nov. 30, with the semifinals and finals being conducted on Friday and Saturday. The winner of each region will then participate in the Elite Eight, which will narrow down to the national champion during a three-day event beginning on Dec. 7 in Pensacola, Fla.