After a brief tease on Twitter yesterday, the Marquette volleyball team and head coach Bond Shymansky have announced their schedule for the 2013 season. In addition to a round robin format with the eight other Big East schools (Providence plays volleyball in the America East), there are six teams in the non-conference portion of the schedule that made the NCAA tournament in 2012 and a seventh won their regular season conference title.
It's not a surprising tactic by Coach Shymansky, given that his team hasn't lost to one of the members of The Seven since 2010. As we discussed earlier, Creighton will provide oustanding competition, and both Butler and Xavier were both top six teams in the Atlantic 10 last year, but a strong non-conference schedule is going to be needed to propel MU into the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year. It will be an interesting task for Shymansky though, as he will have to quickly find a way to replace seniors Danielle Carlson, Kelsey Mattai, and Holly Mertens on the attack.
Here's what Coach Shymansky had to say about the non-conference schedule:
We are loading up our schedule once again. We are committed to excellence and championship-caliber competition everywhere and any way we can get it. Our program has taken a big step forward in the past few years, but we need to keep making strides, and the only way to do that is to play the best teams we can. Almost half of our out-of-conference slate will be against top-25 opponents, and several other conference champions. We will need to be sharp, motivated and steady to succeed in the challenge, but I am confident that is exactly what we are.
Let's get to the schedule!
The string of NCAA tournament teams gets started right off the bat with Bowling Green and BYU at BGSU's Hampton Inn Invite to open the season on August 30 & 31. This means that MU will be playing in the Stroh Center, so yes, I'm including the Stroh Center Rap.
MU opens the home schedule with Pac12 power and 2012 NCAA Elite Eight participant USC in the first game of the Marquette Challenge on September 6. Next up on the challenge list: Penn State. The Nittany Lions won four straight national championships from 2007-2010 and made a Final Four appearance in 2012. They will meet up with Marquette on September 13 in
Fort Myers Dunk City, Florida, as part of an event hosted by Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU is the regular season title winner on the slate, and also participating in the event is MU's Saturday opponent, Central Arkansas, who made their first ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2012. Yet another NCAA tournament team comes to the Al McGuire Center, as 2012 Sweet 16 team Florida will be in the Marquette Invite taking place from September 20-22.
Coach Shymansky had this to say about the Big East round robin:
It is really exciting to play a double round robin format in the BIG EAST this year. We have some great existing rivalries and some new rivalries brewing. I expect that the regular season title will come down to the wire, and we ought to be in the hunt once again. Our team understands that a BIG EAST title is a daily conquest and must be focused on by achieving success each day. We have great leadership and returning players with experience, but we also have some younger talent that will surprise people around the league. It will be another fun season for the Golden Eagles.
The Big East schedule opens with four consecutive road matches. DePaul will be the opening match for the conference schedule overall (September 28) and for the home end of things, too (October 19). Marquette's two cracks at Creighton, the team that bounced them from the 2012 NCAA tournament will come just 12 days apart. First is the trip to Omaha on October 13 followed by the home date on Friday, October 25. The home game against Creighton will be the first match in a three day/three match homestand for the Golden Eagles, taking on Villanova on Saturday and Georgetown on Sunday.
Senior Day will be Saturday, November 23, against Butler, wrapping up a month's worth of regular season games against just four different teams. MU will head back to Omaha for the Big East tournament on November 29-30, which will hopefully result in a third contest against the Bluejays.
Need the full schedule? Go here and print yourself a copy.