RALEIGH — In its first 36 years, the Wolfpack volleyball program had only one NCAA Tournament appearance. Coach Bryan Bunn, in only his third year with the Pack, earned a second bid Sunday afternoon.
“We’re so excited to be selected,” Bunn said. “I’m so happy for all of the girls. All of their hard work has paid off.
“It’s been a wonderful year and we’re looking forward to playing Texas A&M.”
The record-breaking Pack will take on the Aggies Thursday in Austin, Texas at 5 p.m.
The bid was the Wolfpack’s first since 1987. State had 20-plus wins for the second time since 1996, finished fourth in the ACC with a school-record 12 conference wins and beat North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest in one season for the first time ever.
“It’s been 25 years since this program has made it, so this is huge,” Bunn said.
The Pack was led by senior setter Megan Cyr. The All-ACC First Team player is third all-time in career assists and second in career hitting percentage in just three years since transferring from Colorado prior to the 2010 season.
The Wolfpack (22-9 overall, 12-8 ACC) watched the announcement on ESPNU at the Backyard Bistro near PNC Arena. Each time another part of the bracket appeared on the screens, the players let out a gasp and whispered to one another.
But when ‘N.C. State’ finally appeared, Cyr was the first to jump out of her seat.
“I definitely thought this could be possible, but I knew it would take a lot of hard work,” Cyr said. “This has been a dream of mine since I came to play volleyball from Canada and I’m just so thankful for this opportunity I’ve had at N.C. State.”
Cyr’s initial reaction was screaming, which then gave way to tears. That was when she called her roommate Becah Fogle, a former outside hitter for the Pack who also transferred from Colorado.
The tears continued when Cyr, a Manitoba, Canada, native, talked about her connection to Fogle.
“She’s been with me through the whole thing,” Cyr said before wiping her eyes.
“I feel like she’s just as much a part of this as anyone on this team is.”
The other senior leader for State this season was Alexa Micek, a defensive specialist. Micek, much like Cyr, transferred from Pierce College and has played for Bunn during his three-year tenure.
“I’m just ecstatic right now,” Micek said. “Literally all of my dreams while being here have come true.
“When I first came here, this wasn’t even in the realm of possibility.”
Bunn said the senior leadership that both Micek and Cyr brought to his team this year was crucial to the Pack’s success.
“Both of those kids are just amazing and hard working,” Bunn said. “They’ve set a standard for our program.”