PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- For the first time since 1997, the Villanova University women's volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
The 25-8 Wildcats will take on Dayton in the first round on Friday at Penn State's Rec Hall.
Villanova advanced to the Big East final, but fell to Creighton to lose out on an automatic bid to the tourney. So the Wildcats had to play the waiting game to see if they would earn an at-large berth.
Senior outside hitter Lauren Carpenter remembers the moment when their name appeared on the screen during the selection show.
"It was unreal," Carpenter tells KYW Newsradio. "I have never felt anything like that. I don't think there's very many moments in life where you have something that big around a group of people like that and it is shown in that way that you can be so excited with so many people that care so much about the same thing. So it was really cool."
Listen to the entire interview with Villanova's Lauren Carpenter
The Wildcats have done an about face from a season ago when they finished 13-20.
"I thought we had some pieces in place that could make us better than we've been," Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach tells KYW Newsradio. "We've been down the past couple years. I wasn't sure that we could be exactly where we are, but I certainly thought we were going to be pretty good during preseason and it has come together well."
Listen to the entire interview with Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach
"I think my class, we were ready to have a good season," Carpenter says. "We were done having disappointing seasons. So we knew that we were going to do something great. I just didn't know how great it was going to be."
The Wildcats on Friday will match-up with a Dayton team that is 26-5 on the season.
"Dayton's very good," Steinbach says. "They cruised through their conference, the A-10, they didn't lose a match. They are very quick offensively, they also have a pretty good balanced team and they can set anybody so that makes them challenging."
The winner of Villanova and Dayton will face the winner of Penn State and Howard in the second round on Saturday.
Friday's first-round match will get underway at 5:00pm.
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