Kansas Wesleyan Men’s Volleyball accepts invitation to join Heart of America Conference

Kansas Wesleyan Men’s Volleyball will make the move to the Heart of America Conference starting with the 2025 season.

KWU spent its first three seasons playing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC).

“Making the move to the Heart of America is a feather in the cap for our program,” said Kansas Wesleyan Athletic Director Miguel Paredes. “There are many advantages for us making this move. The Heart of America is one of the strongest men’s volleyball conferences in the country and we look forward to being a part of it.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Kansas Wesleyan University to the Heart of America Athletic Conference as an associate member for Men’s Volleyball,” Nik Rule, Commissioner of the Heart of America Athletic Conference said. “Their commitment to excellence both on and off the court aligns perfectly with the values of our conference. We believe their participation will enhance the caliber of competition within our league and helps us meet our growth goals.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to join a strong, established conference for our men’s volleyball program,” KWU Men’s Volleyball Coach Dustin Sahlmann said. “I feel that this move will help our program in multiple areas. In terms of recruiting, it is a draw to play the best the NAIA has to offer on a weekly basis. It will reduce our travel yearly, which will keep the players in class and help them continue to excel academically. Lastly, I believe it will make our guys perform consistently better, as we will be playing ranked teams almost every week. All of these things will help us continue to grow and develop this young program.”

This season, the Coyotes went 14-13 overall and 4-6 in the GPAC, earning the No. 4 seed and hosting a first-round game for the first time in program history, defeating Ottawa in four sets in the match to advance to the GPAC Fab Four.

“We’re appreciative of our time in the GPAC,” said Paredes. “It was a quality place for us to begin our program, and we’re thankful for their support these first few years. Our university developed quality relationships within the conference, and we look forward to maintaining those relationships, even as we start this new, exciting era.”

KWU will be the 11th men’s volleyball team in the Heart, joining Grand View (Iowa), William Penn (Iowa), Park (Mo.), Missouri Valley, Mount Mercy (Iowa), Missouri Baptist, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (Mo.), Clarke (Iowa), Graceland (Iowa) and Culver-Stockton (Mo.).

The remainder of Kansas Wesleyan’s athletic programs will continue to reside in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), KWU’s primary conference for more than 120 years. The KCAC does not sponsor men’s volleyball at the conference level.