Wright State coach: ‘Absolutely overwhelming’ to earn NCAA bid

Wright State celebrates a point during a match against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 23, 2019. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics
Wright State celebrates a point during a match against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 23, 2019. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics

Raiders, Dayton Flyers both play Friday at Purdue

The Wright State Raiders and Dayton Flyers volleyball teams had similar reactions when they found out their NCAA tournament fates Sunday night.

Players screamed when they saw their school’s name on ESPNU. They jumped up and down.

There were plenty of hugs, too, in the Wright State locker room, a video posted to Twitter showed, because the team had never advanced to the NCAA tournament and didn’t know for sure if was going to be selected this season. Wright State earned an at-large NCAA tournament berth, which no program in school history had ever done.

“After the Horizon League tournament and losing to NKU, obviously that stung us,” Wright State coach Allie Matters said. “I wasn’t prepared to go into the locker room that night and deliver a speech to wrap up our season. I thought, ‘I don’t think they’re going to listen to a word I’m saying.’ They were devastated, to say the least. So to have another chance to spend more time with this wonderful group and hit the court one more time, it’s absolutely overwhelming.”

» RELATED: Wright State a surprise to league rivals

The Dayton and Wright State names popped up on the selection show moments apart because the teams occupy the same section of the bracket.

Dayton (22-8) will play No. 12 Marquette (27-5) in the first round at 4:30 p.m. Friday, and Wright State (24-5) will play No. 16 Purdue (22-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Both matches will take place on Belin Court at Holloway Gymnasium on the campus of Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. The winners will play in the second round at 7 p.m. Saturday at the same location.

Wright State will play Purdue for the first time. Wright State is 41st in the RPI. Purdue is 21st. The Boilermakers are making their 21st NCAA appearance and have never lost in the first round. They have reached the Sweet 16 seven times and the Elite Eight twice.

Dayton will make its 14th appearance in the NCAA tournament, its second in a row and fourth in the last five years. It is 7-13 in the tournament.

» RELATED: Dayton beats VCU in A-10 final for second straight year

The Flyers earned an automatic berth by beating Virginia Commonwealth 3-2 in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship. Dayton ranks 42nd in the RPI. Marquette is 13th.

“We’re really excited,” said Dayton coach Tim Horsmon in a video shared by the Dayton volleyball Twitter account. “We had a good season and a good ending. We want to get better this week and see what we can do this weekend.”

Dayton is 21-7 against Marquette. The teams last played in 2015. Marquette is playing in the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight season.

“We’re excited about the draw,” Horsmon said. “The distance is going to be really good. I think being at Purdue and playing there a couple times, (we know) they support the program really well. so I’m guess there are going to be a lot of fans. Marquette is a really good program and has done well for a lot of years. They’re well coached.”