Fort Valley State Wildcats Make History with First NCAA Tournament Bid

The Fort Valley State Wildcats make history as the first HBCU volleyball team to reach the NCAA Tournament, facing defending champions UCLA. Their journey inspires HBCU athletics and promises more success to come.

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Salman Khan
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Fort Valley State Wildcats Make History with First NCAA Tournament Bid

Fort Valley State Wildcats Make History with First NCAA Tournament Bid

The Fort Valley State Wildcats men's volleyball team has made history by receiving its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. As the sole HBCU program in the tournament, the Wildcats were awarded the No. 8 seed and will face the defending champion UCLA Bruins, the No. 1 seed, in the quarterfinals on April 30 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.

Fort Valley State finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record in the SIAC and an overall record of 17-8, more than doubling their combined program victories from the first two seasons. The Wildcats earned the SIAC's automatic berth after defeating Central State in the SIAC Championship last week, led by SIAC Regular Season MVP Jaxon Hicks and All-SIAC First Team member Chey Cooper. "This is a historic moment for our program and HBCU volleyball," said head coach Geral Benoit. "We've worked hard to reach this point, and we're prepared to compete on the national stage."

The Wildcats faced UCLA earlier this season, losing 3-0, but were missing three players, including two All-SIAC players, during that match. "We didn't have our full squad when we played them before," said Hicks. "With everyone healthy and ready to go, we believe we can provide them a much tougher challenge this time around." Isaiah Fedd, who earned Tournament MVP honors in the SIAC Championship, echoed Hicks' confidence: "We've grown a lot as a team since that first meeting. We're not just happy to be here; we're going to compete and show what HBCU volleyball is all about."

Why this matters: Fort Valley State's historic NCAA Tournament bid represents a significant milestone for HBCU volleyball programs. Their success this season showcases the talent and competitiveness of HBCU athletics and could inspire more support and recognition for these programs in the future.

The Fort Valley State Wildcats will look to make more history when they take the court against UCLA on April 30. Regardless of the outcome, their journey to the NCAA Tournament has already cemented their place in the record books and serves as an inspiration for HBCU volleyball programs across the country. "This is just the beginning for us and for HBCU volleyball," said Coach Benoit. "We're going to keep working hard and proving that we belong on this stage."

Key Takeaways

  • Fort Valley State Wildcats men's volleyball team made historic NCAA Tournament bid.
  • Wildcats finished regular season 17-8, earning SIAC's automatic berth.
  • Wildcats face defending champion UCLA Bruins in NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
  • HBCU volleyball programs' success could inspire more support and recognition.
  • Wildcats aim to prove HBCU volleyball belongs on the national stage.