Georgia head coach Tom Black speaks to Georgia middle blocker Kianna Young (17). The Georgia volleyball team lost to the University of Missouri Tigers 3-1 on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Georgia volleyball team is heading to California to compete in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Georgia faces off against Cal Poly on Friday, and if it wins, will face the winner of the game between No. 3 Stanford and Denver.

This is the first time Georgia has been in the 64-team tournament since 2013. Finishing with a 21-9 regular season record, this is Georgia’s second 20-win season in three years under head coach Tom Black.

Georgia will be led by senior and All-SEC team member Meghan Donovan and SEC freshman of the year Kacie Evans. The team will need their talent and leadership this weekend and will also look to junior transfer student Kayla House for experience with the tournament.

“Being a freshman going to the tournament was a once in a lifetime experience. We made it there doing what we did and running our system,” House said.

House played for Coastal Carolina two years before transferring to Georgia for her junior year. House and other players stressed the importance of taking the games in the tournament one at a time, and viewing them as a normal game.

“We’re gonna treat every game normally, like we have been, and go out and perform,” freshman Kacie Evans said.

Meghan Donovan, the lone senior on the Georgia roster, is excited like the rest of the team for the tournament. She has worked for this achievement since coming to Georgia and will play like each game is her last.

“I think having it be my senior year is just the icing on the cake, just finishing off strong, and getting that goal that we’ve always been working for,” Donovan said.

Black is leading his team into the tournament for the fourth time in his career, the first time with Georgia. His record as coach of Loyola Marymount is 2-3 in postseason play, and his team did manage to upset No. 8 Stanford in 2015. He looks to recreate his success with the Bulldogs.

“We’re definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel at this point," Black said. "We try to define each skill, like this is what our serve looks like, this is our offense. ... Hopefully that gives an easier reference in the match, like get back to this or keep doing that.”

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