Gamecock Volleyball Makes NCAA Tournament Field of 64 in Atlanta Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball will make its third trip to the NCAA tournament in the last four years, learning Sunday night that it will travel to the Atlanta regional to face Western Kentucky in the first round. Game time is currently scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, with the winner to play against the winner of Georgia Tech and The Citadel. The Yellow Jackets earned the number eight seed overall in the tournament.

“I’m thrilled for our seniors and I’m thrilled for … players like Ellie and Riley who haven’t been in the tournament and all of our freshmen that have contributed this season,” said head coach Tom Mendoza. “The amount of experience that they’re going to get is huge for our program moving forward. For our seniors, we say leave the program in a better place than when you got here. That was one of their goals, to make the NCAA tournament and try to compete and represent our program as best as we can. I’m thrilled for all of them.”

This is the team’s third trip in Mendoza’s four seasons as head coach, with the lone miss coming in last season’s modified 48-team tournament. The Gamecocks have won the first round in each of their last three tournament appearances, most recently defeating 10th-ranked Colorado State in 2019 while playing in the Seattle Regional. This will be the tenth NCAA tournament trip in the program’s 49-year history, South Carolina has a 6-9 record in tournament games.

Western Kentucky enters the postseason with a 27-1 overall record and is ranked No. 16 in the most recent top-25 coaches poll. The Hilltoppers earned the automatic bid by winning Conference USA, it will be the 14thNCAA tournament appearance for the program. The team’s lone loss came on Sept. 10 against Ole Miss, over its 28 games it current ranks first in the nation for hitting percentage (.342) while holding opponents to the sixth-lowest hitting percentage in the nation (.138).

Friday will be the fourth meeting between the two programs, but the last meeting came back in 1993.

The Southeastern Conference will be well-represented in the tournament, with six teams making the field of 64 and two teams – Kentucky and Florida – hosting the first weekend. Along with the Gamecocks, Wildcats and Gators, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee each had its name called Sunday night.

First and Second Round play of the 2021 NCAA Tournament will take place nationwide December 2-4. Regional Semifinals and Regional Finals will be December 10 and 11 with the National Semifinals and National Championship happening on December 16 and 18, respectively, in Columbus, Ohio.

For more information and updates on the team’s journey through the tournament, follow @GamecockVolley on social media.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks