FORT COLLINS, CO – After stepping aside last year because of COVID-19 concerns, the National Invitational Volleyball Championship is back, with tournament officials announcing Sunday the 31 teams that will make up the field, along with first-round locations, matchups and game times.
This is the fourth edition of the NIVC since its reboot through Triple Crown Sports; the event previously ran from 1989-95. Previous champions of the current NIVC are Georgia Tech (2019), Iowa State (2018) and Ole Miss (2017).
The 2021 NIVC features Round 1 and 2 action from Dec. 2-5, with Round 3 scheduled for Dec. 6-8. The semifinals will be held Dec. 8-11, and the championship match be played Dec. 12-14.
2021 NIVC Bracket
Here is the 2021 NIVC field of teams:
Arkansas (19-10) – Southeastern Conference
Colorado State (18-10) – Mountain West Conference*
Delaware State (26-4) – Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference*
Houston Baptist (21-8) – Southland Conference
Jackson State (17-13) – Southwestern Athletic Conference*
Pacific (13-16) – West Coast Conference
Sam Houston State (18-9) – Western Athletic Conference*
UConn (21-10) – Big East Conference
UTEP (21-7) – Conference USA
Weber State (20-9) – Big Sky Conference*
*Denotes conference regular season champion
Arizona (16-15) – Pac-12 Conference
Bradley (16-14) – Missouri Valley Conference
Boston College (16-16) – Atlantic Coast Conference
Butler (16-15) – Big East Conference
Chicago State (17-10) – Western Athletic Conference
CSU Bakersfield (18-10) – Big West Conference
Evansville (19-11) – Missouri Valley Conference
Indiana State (18-12) – Missouri Valley Conference
Middle Tennessee (9-11) – Conference USA
New Mexico State (19-9) – Western Athletic Conference
North Carolina A&T (20-10) – Big South Conference
North Florida (24-7) – Atlantic Sun Conference
Portland State (19-10) – Big Sky Conference
Stephen F. Austin (18-9) – Western Athletic Conference
Troy (17-12) – Sun Belt Conference
Tulsa (14-15) – American Athletic Conference
Toledo (19-12) – Mid-American Conference
UNC Greensboro (23-7) – Southern Conference
UNLV (23-9) – Mountain West Conference
Univ. Texas Rio Grande Valley (17-10) – Western Athletic Conference
Valparaiso (22-9) – Missouri Valley Conference
Here are the first- and second-round matchups, in bracket order:
(Home team listed second)
Dec. 3 at Stephen F. Austin
Jackson State vs. Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 ET
Dec. 4: Arkansas vs. TBD, 7:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3 at Arizona
New Mexico State vs. UNLV, 5 p.m. ET
UTRGV vs. Arizona, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 6 p.m. ET
Dec. 3 at Weber State
Pacific vs. Portland State, 5 p.m. ET
CSU Bakersfield vs. Weber State, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 4 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Colorado State
Tulsa vs. UTEP, 7 p.m. ET
Houston Baptist vs. Colorado State, 9:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 9 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Chicago State
Evansville vs. Sam Houston, 6 p.m. ET
Bradley vs. Chicago State, 8:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Valparaiso
Toledo vs. Indiana State, 5 p.m. ET
Butler vs. Valparaiso, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 7 p.m. ET
Dec 3 at Troy
UNC Greensboro vs. North Florida, 5 p.m. ET
Middle Tennessee vs. Troy, 7:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 2 p.m. ET
Dec. 4 at Boston College
Delaware State vs. Boston College, 4 p.m. ET
North Carolina A&T vs. UConn, 7 p.m. ET
Dec. 5: Winners, 4 p.m. ET
“With the explosive growth of volleyball, and how the maturing club scene has allowed dozens of D-I programs to raise the bar of excellence in recruiting, it only makes sense to add to the postseason options in the college game,” said NIVC director Jared Rudiger. “Teams will chase an NIVC title as a reward for experienced rosters, or to provide a true learning experience for young players when it comes to the demands of the postseason.”
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing youth, high school and college events for 40 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s DI Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. Triple Crown’s PV College Challenge features 8-10 of the top DI college softball teams in the country each year in Puerto Vallarta, MX.
FORT COLLINS, CO — Tournament officials with the National Invitational Volleyball Championship have remained in close contact with dozens of high-achieving D-I volleyball programs throughout the season, which means the event will take its place in the postseason landscape starting with Selection Night, Nov. 28.
Modeled after the NIT and WNIT college basketball tournaments, the NIVC is expected to feature 32 teams in a single-elimination format designed to reward deserving programs with a separate postseason experience. The NIVC field will be announced Sunday after the NCAA determines the selections for its 64-team tournament.
For the 2021 NIVC, Rounds 1 and 2 will be held Dec. 2-5, with Round 3 set for Dec. 6-8. The semifinals will fall between Dec. 8-11, with the championship match slated for either Dec. 13 or 14. All matches are held on campus locations.
Previous NIVC champions are Ole Miss (2017), Iowa State (2018) and Georgia Tech (2019). The event has its roots in the Women’s Invitational Volleyball Championship, which was held between 1989-1995 before its restart under the guiding hand of Triple Crown Sports, producer of the women’s Preseason and Postseason WNIT, the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge basketball events, and the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, the first NCAA D-I softball event held outside the United States.
“We were massively disappointed to lose the NIVC in 2020, as we’d heard from so many programs that this was filling a major hole in the college volleyball world,” said NIVC director Jared Rudiger. “One thing that COVID didn’t change was the number of standout college volleyball programs and the excitement they can bring to campuses in the chase for the NIVC title. We are thrilled to give high-performing mid-major teams and a determined core of Power 5 programs the chance to end their seasons on a high note.”
Numerous head coaches with NCAA programs are on the record with their support and appreciation for the NIVC.
Houston coach Dave Rehr has participated twice in the event, once while at Arkansas State and once with the Cougars. Said Rehr:
“In basketball they have (multiple) postseason tournaments, and teams rally around tournaments like that. To teach your volleyball team how to play in December is crucial. To have the experience of extra practice and matchups against really quality teams can only make your team better. The volleyball community needs to rally behind the NIVC and see it for the value it is.”
Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch: “The NIVC was a great event for our team and fans in 2018. We had a wonderful group of seniors that had been through a lot, and it was awesome they got to experience postseason play that year. Our fans and players relished the chance to continue competing, especially on our home court. I see the NIVC as more opportunity: more opportunity for female athletes, more opportunity for programs to gain experience in a postseason and more opportunity for fans to cheer on their teams and support volleyball.”
Bowling Green coach Danijela Tomic: “Our participation in the NIVC (2017-19) was invaluable. That’s when we turned the page. We want the MAC to send more than one team to the NCAA Tournament, but that doesn’t happen every year. To show our players, hey, you are not done after the MAC Tournament, we train, have Thanksgiving, train, then play. By the third year in the NIVC, we weren’t just happy to be in the postseason, we want to win. I would recommend the NIVC to teams like that, who were in our situation, where the expectation needs to be ‘we play in the postseason.’”
Georgia Tech head coach Michelle Collier: “It’s a group (in 2021) that has been leaned on from the start, one that learned a lot about postseason pressure in the 2018 and 2019 NIVC. That was a class that’s been playing a lot since their freshman year. They carried a lot of responsibility, and that’s one reason we decided to play in the NIVC – that was such a young group, and they needed the experience of playing, especially in a knock-out tournament, where if you lose you’re out.
“We played it in 2018, and the buildup for us to 2019, and then the buildup to the 2020 season, it was great to get that experience. I felt we just got better and better, and the competition got harder, and it prepared us for the (2020) run in the NCAA’s. We want that in our culture, that we are playing volleyball in December, and the NIVC definitely helped create that culture and the normalcy of thinking we’ve got a couple more weeks to go after Thanksgiving. It paid off for sure.”
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for 40 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 900-team Colorado 4th of July event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.