Nervous smiles quickly gave way to jubilant cheers and smiles on Thursday.
The 11th-ranked Blinn College volleyball team (34-5) received the final at-large bid for the 2023 NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship tournament during the NJCAA’s live selection show. Blinn was the final team revealed in the 16-team bracket and is now preparing for its fourth consecutive trip to the national competition.
The tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.
“We were really nervous, but I think in the end the bid we received was deserved based on the body of work our team put together all year long,” said Blinn head coach Terry Gamble. “I’m really excited for these girls to experience this, I’m proud of them, and I’m excited to see what we can do when we get there.”
The 11th-seeded Bucs will take on sixth-seeded Weatherford College in the first round at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, a team they faced in just their second match of the season. The Coyotes claimed a sweep of Blinn at the Weatherford Tournament on Aug. 18.
Blinn was the Region XIV regular-season runner up this fall with a 13-3 conference mark. The Bucs also enjoyed a 25-match winning streak following its setback to Weatherford.
This will be the fourth national tournament appearance for the Bucs since Gamble’s arrival at Blinn in 2018. The Bucs placed fifth in 2020 and eighth in 2021.
“Right now, everybody is 0-0 and what every team did this season up to this point doesn’t matter,” sophomore hitter/blocker Don’Yah Cosie said. “We need to wipe the slate clean, play our best volleyball, be prepared to make mistakes, but also be ready to play hard. If we do that, we’re going to end this season on a good note.”
The full bracket, including match pairings, dates and times, can be found at?www.njcaa.org/championships/sports/wvball/div1/index.
Blinn has captured five volleyball national championships, including back-to-back titles in 2013-14.
“It’s all or nothing now, so why not pour our hearts out and play to win the entire thing,” sophomore middle blocker Brooke Pattschull said. “We’ve had so many ups and downs this season … moments where we thought we were for sure making it to nationals and moments where we thought we blew our chance. So now that it’s here and it’s reality, I know we’re excited to show what we can do.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 44?NJCAA national championships since 1987.