The American Athletic Conference (AAC) will hold its first ever postseason conference tournament this weekend in Orlando after the University of Cincinnati volleyball team finished first in the conference with a 24-5 record (15-1 AAC).
The Bearcats have an advantage over five of the top six seeds in the conference (Southern Methodist, Central Florida, Houston, Tulane and Tulsa), but head coach Molly Alvey stressed what they accomplished in the regular-season is behind them and the postseason is up for grabs.
“It’s a whole new ball game,” Alvey said. “We ended the regular-season and started anew, so it’s a little bit of a different dynamic … But to be able to host an event like this, I think we get to put on a great show for every team. When you’re at home, it’s just a major advantage and just that comfort zone. You already know how everything works and everything just clicks.”
UC is riding a 10-match winning streak and will have a first round bye when the tournament kicks off Friday. The Bearcats clinched the top seed in the tournament after a three-set sweep of East Carolina Friday and celebrated it following another sweep of Tulsa Sunday afternoon.
“To look at your players and coaches in the eyes and see that they have a sense of ownership and pride for the season is more than the wind,” Alvey said. “You have to recognize what you’ve done well, but you have to re-engage and change your mindset. The mentality takes as much practice as the physical part of the game does.”
The win against Tulsa capped off an undefeated record at home in conference play (8-0), which could be a challenge to keep going right off the bat if they were to face Tulane in the tournament. Tulane is the the only AAC school to beat UC this season.
UC faces the winner of No. 4 Houston and No. 5 Tulane Saturday at The Venue at University of Central Florida in Orlando. First serve is 3:30 p.m.