FORT COLLINS, COLO. – Last week the NCAA passed legislation adding the National Invitational Volleyball Championship as a permanent season-ending event for volleyball. Since the return of the event in 2017, Triple Crown Sports has been operating the championship off a waiver from the NCAA. The move allows teams to plan and budget for a postseason tournament now before the season starts.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the NCAA officially make the NIVC a permanent second event for college volleyball,” said NIVC Director Jared Rudiger. “We have run the Postseason WNIT in basketball since 1998 and have seen firsthand the impact that event has made on women’s basketball. For teams who miss out on the NCAA Tournament, it gives them valuable postseason experience, builds fan support and many times boosts the team’s success the next year.”
Georgia Tech made two appearances in the NIVC, first in 2018, where they were knocked out in the second round, and then again in 2019, where they won the championship after defeating South Dakota in three sets.
“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,” said head coach Michelle Collier. “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.”
The NIVC has featured 32 teams each year since 2017 with all matches hosted on campuses. In 2017, Ole Miss defeated Texas Tech in front of a sold-out home crowd to win the championship. Iowa State swept Tulane in front of 1,500 Cyclone fans in 2018 and Georgia Tech in 2019. In 2020, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 but made a strong return in 2021 with UNLV downing Valparaiso in three sets.
The National Invitational Volleyball Championship has its roots in another NCAA Division I event that ran for several years before the turn of the century.
The Women’s Invitational Volleyball Championship debuted in 1989, with 20 teams, in response to demand for another postseason opportunity within the sport. Administrators at smaller but competitive programs like Western Kentucky, Alabama-Birmingham and Eastern Kentucky did the introductory work of gauging interest and building a format. The teams played at one site, in four five-team pools, with each pool winner advancing to a single-elimination bracket.
After two years, the event was renamed the NIVC. Previous event champions were:
1989 – Wisconsin
1990 – Houston
1991 – Kentucky
1992 – Washington State
1993 – Louisiana State
1994 – Cal-State Northridge
1995 – Wisconsin
The new incarnation of the NIVC run by Triple Crown Sports was announced at the AVCA Convention in December of 2016.