Nov 25, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — For the first time in 25 years, NC State’s volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Championships.
The Wolfpack (22-9 overall, 12-8 ACC) is one of four ACC teams to earn a berth in the 64-team field, along with champion Florida State, Miami and North Carolina.
Third-year head coach Bryan Bunn’s team will face Texas A&M on Thursday at 5 p.m. (EST) in Austin, Texas, in the school’s first NCAA match since the 1987 team lost 3-0 to Kentucky in the first round in Lexington, Ky. That is the only previous NCAA appearance in school history.
The Aggies, competing in their first season of Southeastern Conference play, are 24-5 overall and 16-4 in the league, winning the Western Division and finishing second overall.
“I was confident that we had a shot,” Bunn said, after his team watched the announcement on ESPNU at a Raleigh restaurant. “These girls have always been greater than the sum of their parts. That’s a testament to them and how hard they’ve worked since they have been here.
“This is a cherry on top of the ice cream we have had all season.”
For Bunn, a successful coach at both North Florida and Texas Lutheran, the invitation was even earlier than he expected when he was hired to take over the program in 2010.
“This was one of our goals when we got here, to make it into the NCAA Tournament,” said Bunn, who has guided the Pack to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1995-96. “It happened a little sooner than I thought it would. That’s great. It’s going to help our program in the long run.
“We had hoped to be at this point in year four or five. These kids have worked their butts off and it pays off when you work that hard.”
For senior co-captains Megan Cyr and Alexa Micek, earning an NCAA Championship berth is the pinnacle of their NC State careers and the culmination of a long journey they started when they followed Bunn to Raleigh three years ago.
“I definitely thought [making it to the NCAAs] would be possible, but I knew it would take a lot of hard work,” said Cyr, a native of St. Andrews, Manitoba, who transferred to NC State from Colorado. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be in this position. I came from Canada to play NCAA volleyball, and I'm thankful for this opportunity I've had at NC State.
“There are really no words to describe how I feel today.”
Micek, a senior who transferred from Pierce College in Los Angeles, was overcome with emotion when the Wolfpack’s name flashed on the television screen.
“When I first got here, this was not even in the realm of possibility,” Micek said. “To be standing here today, knowing we are going to the NCAAs, this is my wildest dream come true.
“I didn’t even see our name when it was announced. I just heard everybody else scream and saw them jumping up out of their chairs.”
The Wolfpack set a school record for ACC victories with 12, breaking the record of eight Bunn’s team set last year. The total of 22 overall victories is the most for an NC State team since 1983, when Judy Martino guided the Pack to a 23-15 record, which included a 1-1 mark in the now-defunct ACC Tournament.
The 22 victories are the most regular-season wins for the program since 1982, when the Pack was 24-11 in Pat Heilscher’s final season. That included a 1-1 ACC Tournament mark.