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UE volleyball heading to the postseason

Aces receive invite to NIVC Tournament
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Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 10:26 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the first time as members of the Missouri Valley Conference, the University of Evansville volleyball team has earned a postseason bid. The Purple Aces were one of 31 teams chosen to participate in the Women’s National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

The full bracket for the NIVC was announced on Sunday evening and the Aces are set to open play on Thursday evening against Sam Houston State with the winner facing either Bradley or Chicago State, who is one of the opening round hosts. UE will open the tournament at 5 p.m.

“I am very happy and proud of this group,” UE head coach Fernando Morales exclaimed following the announcement. “We are taking giant steps towards our mid-term and long-term goals. This was one of the goals for this program and this group made it happen.”

UE enjoyed one of its best seasons since becoming members of the MVC in 1994. The 19 victories in 2021 matched the 1998 and 2000 squads for the most since a 21-17 mark in 1988. Winning nine conference matches, the 2021 Aces posted the second-best MVC finish, behind only the 2000 team who went 10-8.

This is the fourth edition of the NIVC since its reboot through Triple Crown Sports; the event previously ran from 1989-95. Previous champions of the current NIVC are Georgia Tech (2019), Iowa State (2018) and Ole Miss (2017). The NIVC was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 NIVC features Round 1 and 2 action from Dec. 2-5, with Round 3 scheduled for Dec. 6-8. The semifinals will be held Dec. 8-11, and the championship match be played Dec. 13 or 14.

Evansville heads to the postseason with a balanced roster of youth and experience. Both of those were on full display all season. Senior Alondra Vazquez and junior Melanie Feliciano were both named to the All-MVC First Team last week. Vazquez paced the MVC in kills while Feliciano finished the season sixth in that category.

Freshmen Giulia Cardona and Taya Haffner earned spots on the MVC All-Freshman Team. Cardona completed the season with the most service aces in the league while ranking in the top 15 nationally and #1 among freshmen. Haffner had a stellar season that saw her finish atop the MVC in assists.

Four MVC squads were chosen to play in the NIVC with Bradley, Indiana State, Valparaiso and UE taking part.

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