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The University of California, Merced men's volleyball team enjoyed a historic regular season, and the end result is everything they could have hoped for: a trip to the conference playoffs.
The Bobcats finished their season on an unprecedented run of hot play, winning seven of their final 11 games and punching their ticket to the postseason. Those seven wins shattered the team's previous record of four victories in a season. Among those wins were a sweep of Hope International University at home in early march, which sparked the team's run.
The Bobcats then traveled to the Midwest for matches in Ohio and Michigan. Despite the new terrain, UC Merced made themselves at home, winning four of their five games, and winning them all in four sets or less.
Their only defeat provides a nice segue to the team's first run in the conference postseason. Right in the middle of their Ohio/Michigan trip, the Bobcats ran into #6 ranked Lourdes University, who dismissed UC Merced in three sets. So it's only right that the Bobcats get their shot at revenge in their Cal Pac / GSAC / WHAC Men's Volleyball Conference Tournament opener tomorrow, April 7 at 2:30 PM in Mesa, AZ.
The tournament is double elimination, featuring the Bobcats, Lourdes, Siena Heights, and the host school Benedictine University at Mesa. UC Merced defeated Siena Heights in four sets during their road trip, but were held winless in three attempts against Mesa.
Should the Bobcats not get their revenge on Lourdes in the first round, they'll take on the loser of the Benedictine and Siena Heights match at 5:00 PM tomorrow. Should they upset Lourdes in the first round, the Bobcats would play the winner of the other match tomorrow at 7:30 PM. For a full view of the tournament schedule, see the attached bracket.
The Bobcats peaked at the right time with their recent string of hot play. Most recently they took Mesa to five games on Senior Day, nearly earning their first victory ever against the Redhawks. Because of that hot play, Bobcats Interim Head Coach Ai Prachumsri said he's confident UC Merced has put themselves in as good a position as they could have asked for.
"The team is ready to compete against the top team in the conference and leave it all on the floor," Prachumsri said. "The goal of the season was to peak at conference tournament time. Through the last 11 games, the team has peaked at the right time and now we're hoping that continues through playoffs."