(Argo Athletics Media Release)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The University of Providence women's volleyball team clinched an automatic bid into the 32 team NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa on Dec. 3 – 7.
After winning the Frontier Conference Championship without dropping a single set, the Argos (24-6) were awarded the 17th seed in tournament field, the same seed they were awarded last year.
"We're excited to be No. 17," head coach Arunas Duda said. "It's nice to be the same seed because we know exactly what to expect now going into the tournament. We're extremely excited."
Montana Tech, who the Argos defeated in the Frontier Conference Championship game, was awarded the 19th seed and also received an automatic entry into the 32-team field. The two schools were the only Frontier Conference schools to qualify for the tournament.
The top 19 seeds automatically qualify for the 32-team tournament. Morningside College gets an automatic bid as the host school. 24 other teams qualified for the tournament, and will play a play-in game this weekend to fill out the 32 team field.
After the play-in games are completed on Saturday, an updated field will be released on Sunday, Nov. 24. The released bracket will feature eight pools of four teams each. The tournament will start on Dec. 3 with three days of pool play, with the Argos playing one match a day against every team in their pool. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the elimination bracket which starts on Dec. 6. The National Championship game will take place on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.
"Because of where we're at, we'll know two of our opponents," Duda said. "So with these two weeks we'll probably look at them a lot and dissect everything they do. But we're also going to be looking at ourselves a little bit as well and trying to fix some things. There will be a lot of critique these new few weeks, a lot of adjustments, a lot of playing."
The Argos will lean on the experience of having played in the national tournament last year.
"Last year we got there we were so wide-eyed and not really knowing what to expect," Duda said. "We stepped on the court on this big-stage and we weren't really prepared for that first match with how we feel. The experience of being there and getting those nerves out, I think we'll be ready this year."
The Argos will also hope to continue to build off their current a six-game winning streak. The streak started with a Halloween victory over Montana State – Northern. Duda credits a lot of their recent success to a five-set victory over Carroll, when they defeated the Fighting Saints without their star outside hitter Kelsey Shaver, who sat out with a back injury.
"That Carroll College match was a big turning for us," Duda said. "Kelsey was out and we knew that we would have to have other people step up. They did just that. We had freshman stepping into roles. We had players that were used to being role players now having to take on a vital role. Winning in five against Carroll at home, that was a huge moment for us. It set it up for that next week and we haven't stopped since then."
That streak carried over into the Frontier Conference Tournament, where the Argos defeated Montana-State Northern, Rocky Mountain College and Montana Tech in straight sets to clinch the conference championship.
"The girls played so incredibly well this weekend. The girls looked possessed playing this weekend. They have that determination, they don't want to lose. They were fired up. Being at home helped a lot. We had a great crowd and a lot of support from family and friends. It was just a fun experience for the girls, and I think they looked at it that way, instead of being nervous to play at home like we have before this year."
The Argos will have two full weeks before they'll take the court again.
"I'm hoping these two weeks don't slow us down too much," Duda said. "It's a nice chance for the girls to rest and relax and give the girls a chance to relax physically and mentally and then we'll get back after it."
"We've had a long list of goals this season," he said. "Now we're finally at the National Tournament. Now we want to do well while we're there. We want to make it to that single elimination bracket. That's our next goal and we're going to do everything we can to prepare for it."
All games can be streamed on the NAIA Network will broadcast all matches excluding the semifinals and championship matches. The semifinal and championship matches will be streamed on ESPN3.