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USF qualifies for NIVC for the first time in half a decade

The Bulls will make their first postseason appearance under coach Jolene Shepardson. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF volleyball qualified for the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) on Sunday for the first time in five seasons and fourth time in program history.

The Bulls (19-11, 13-6 AAC) made the 2018 NIVC and lost 3-2 to Georgia Tech in the first round under then-head coach Courtney Draper.

The Bulls’ postseason bid is the culmination of an impressive turnaround under coach Jolene Shepardson. Their 19 wins this season is the most since 2018 when they won 20 games.

The team won the American Athletic East Division championship outright last Wednesday with a 3-2 victory against Rice.

Related: USF volleyball secures American Athletic East Division Championship title 

Originally known as the Women’s Invitational Volleyball Championship, the NIVC debuted in 1989 with 20 teams. It was developed due to the demand for another postseason opportunity in the sport besides the NCAA tournament.

The teams played in four five-team pools at one site. Each pool winner advanced to a single-elimination bracket. The event was renamed the NIVC in 1991. Since then, the tournament has expanded to 32 teams. 

South Florida will travel to St. John’s University to face Mid-American East division champions Buffalo in the first round of this year’s tournament. The match is scheduled for this Friday at 4 p.m. 

This is Buffalo‘s (23-8, 13-5 MAC) second consecutive and overall appearance in the NIVC. The team was swept by the eventual champion, Boston College, 3-0 in the first round of last year’s tournament.

Buffalo’s 23 wins this season are the most in program history since joining Division One in 1991. They also had a program record of five all-conference team honorees.

The rest of the bracket can be found here.

If USF wins on Friday, they will play the winner of the St. John’s/Howard match on Saturday at 5 p.m.