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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Women’s Volleyball: Owls prepare for first NIVC appearance in program history

The Owls had 20 wins this season, their first since 2018 and second under head coach Fernanda Nelson. Due to their success, the Owls will participate in their NIVC Tournament for the first time in program history.
FAU+players+huddled+up+during+the+match+against+USF+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+16%2C+2023+at+Eleanor+R.+Baldwin+Arena.
Matt Vogdes
FAU players huddled up during the match against USF on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena.

The Florida Atlantic Owls women’s volleyball team (20-12, 12-7 AAC) will play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) for the first time in program history on Friday at 7 p.m., after a historic season. The Owls’ 20 regular season wins are the most they’ve tallied since their 21 in 2018.

The NIVC is one of the postseason tournaments for women’s volleyball. After a 22-year hiatus since 1995 and returning in 2017, the tournament hosts between “32 to 40 of the nation’s top women’s Division I Volleyball teams,” according to the NIVC website. The tournament will have eight teams hosting two rounds of the tournament. The championship game is scheduled from Dec. 10 to Dec. 12.

FAU will play the University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks (20-10, 9-7 WAC) in the opening round. The University of Texas at El Paso is hosting the game. 

Head coach Fernanda Nelson touched on how proud she is of this team.

“By far the best team I’ve been a part of,” said Nelson. “I’m just so blessed to be one of the leaders blessed to coach them–high character group, great culture. I have an unbelievable group of seniors that were able to set the tone for us. Great captains. Really, really nice to be playing this time of the year and keep getting better. They deserve to play this time of the year.”

Coaching the Owls for 11 years, the Owls went 152-139 and had six winning seasons. 

FAU has seven new players this season, with two being freshmen and five transfers. In the past two seasons, the Owls finished a .500 and below .500 in 2022 and 2021, respectively. 

One of the five seniors on the team, libero Raine Lynch, is excited to represent FAU in the tournament ahead of graduation.

“I think it’s really exciting for us,” Lynch said. “We’ve been talking about wanting to play in December all year. The best volleyball teams are playing at this time of year. For us, it’s about continuing to get better every day and finishing the career strong. ”

This opportunity to play in the postseason is not only meaningful for the seniors on the team but also some newcomers as well. Sophomore setter Victoria Hensley transferred from Wofford College in Spartanburg, N.C. to her home state to play for FAU. Hensley spoke on what it means to her to play in the postseason in the NIVC tournament.

“It feels amazing, I mean, this is huge. This is a huge step for FAU volleyball,” said Hensley. “A huge step for every girl on this team. I think that it’s just a testament to how hard we’ve been working and how well we’ve worked together, and to have something to show for that, I think is really awesome.”

Nelson, Lynch and Hensley each highlighted how the improvement and focus in practice has led to their success this season.

“We’ve been talking about all year about how we train is how we’re going to play,” Lynch said. “It’s not about the game. It’s just about coming here everyday and competing with each other and just working to get better, and I think we’ve really made that our priority this year. I would say, for us, it’s just been compete and practice with each other everyday and just holding one another accountable and just trying to get better everyday.”

There is a deep connection between FAU and Texas, especially this season. There are four players on FAU’s roster that grew up in Texas.

“Of course, they’re excited. It’s easy for the families and friends to be able to come and watch,” said Nelson. “I think we’re going to have some of the families there. Usually, they travel a lot to watch us play during the year. They’re excited to be back in Texas.” 

During Friday’s game against the Mavericks, Nelson talked about how the Owls prepare for their NIVC Tournament debut.

“I believe the way we train we can adjust with any team but we’re focusing more on ourselves than who we’re going to be playing with,” Nelson said.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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