ASUN champion Florida Gulf Coast is headed to Gainesville to face Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA National Volleyball Championship Tournament on Friday.
It is the Eagles' third appearance in the NCAAs, having also won the conference title and advancing in 2018 and 2021.
The University of Florida hosts the NCAA First and Second Round matches with FGCU (26-6) and the Cyclones (19-11) playing at 4:30 p.m. and the Gators facing Florida A&M at 7 p.m. The winners of each match will face one another on Saturday at 7 p.m.
FGCU enters the tournament on a 10-game winning streak which has seen the Eagles concede just four sets.
"I would say this is as good of a performance towards the back stretch of the season that we've has since I've been here," said head coach Matt Botsford. "We had some bumps in the road along the way, but credit to the girls for sticking with it."
One of the "bumps" Botsford is referring to is when Liberty snapped FGCU's 22-match home winning streak on Oct. 22, 3-1.
The loss is the Eagles' last, going on to sweep seven of their next 10 opponents.
"Quite honestly, I think it was that loss at home against Liberty," Botsford said. "And since then, we've made some changes that have had a positive impact. I think that kind of momentum is what you're hoping for as a coach while the season is coming to a close."
FGCU rode the winning streak all the way into the ASUN Tournament Championship. Fittingly, the Eagles swept Liberty in the title match.
"I think the expectation is that we can get in this tournament, and we can win matches," Botsford said. "And I don't know that this was always the case. But history has proven we have the ability to do that."
With less than a week until the elimination game, the Eagles are hoping to stand tall amongst the power conference schools that await them. Last year the Eagles beat Texas A&M 3-2 in the first round before falling to host Wisconsin 3-0 in the second round. Back in 2018, FGCU also women its first match, downing host UCF 3-2 before falling to the Gators 3-0 in the second round.
"What we have to do is exactly what we've done all season, we've been a really good serving team and our blocking has picked up," Botsford said. "And when you're playing these Power five teams, those things better be in place or you can get run out of the gym pretty quickly."
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: FGCU Volleyball to face Iowa State in Gainesville in NCAA Tournament