Utah Valley University head volleyball coach Sam Atoa announced his 2014 schedule on Wednesday, and it features 12 home matches, seven dates against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams and a full Western Athletic Conference slate.
The schedule also features a six-match home stand that will span from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, at the PE Building in Orem.
"The schedule has taken some time to put together but I'm pleased with how it has fallen into place," Atoa said. "I'm really happy with the tournaments that we're going to as well as the one that we'll host in September. I feel like these preseason tournaments will really give us an idea of where we're at and we feel that we have a shot to be quite competitive against these top-tiered teams."
The Wolverines, who went 18-15 overall in 2013 and 11-5 in their inaugural year of play in the WAC, open their season at the Kansas Invitational in Lawrence, Kansas. UVU faces stiff competition that weekend, as it takes on the host Jayhawks as well as Creighton and Lipscomb on Aug. 29-30. Kansas and Creighton played in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
After a Monday afternoon match against Wyoming in Evanston, Wyoming, on Sept. 1, UVU faces two more 2013 NCAA Tournament teams in BYU and Washington the following weekend in Provo. The Wolverines also face off against UMBC as part of the BYU Invitational.
Another contest against an in-state opponent awaits the Wolverines on Sept. 9, as UVU faces the University of Utah in Salt Lake City that evening. A couple of days later, Sept. 12-13, UVU heads to Denton, Texas, to take on Jackson State, Abilene Christian and North Texas at the Mean Green Classic.
After 11 straight matches on the road, UVU comes home for the first time in 2014 to begin its six-match home stand on Sept. 19. The Wolverines welcome Idaho State, Portland and UC Riverside to Orem for the annual La Quinta Inn and Suites Invitational that weekend. Following the Invite, UVU begins its second season of WAC play the following weekend against Seattle U (Sept. 27), a team that knocked the Wolverines' out of the conference tournament a year ago.
UVU also faces the 2013 WAC Champion New Mexico State Aggies at the PE Building during the home stand (Oct. 2), as well as Texas-Pan American (Oct. 4).
In all, the Wolverines face all seven other WAC schools twice — home and away — for a total of 14 conference matches.
"We've experienced WAC play for one year now and we feel like we can compete," Atoa said. "We hope to be able to do what we need to do to be the better team at the end of the season."
During the final month of the season, UVU steps out of conference play three times to face in-state foes. The Wolverines welcome Weber State (Oct. 14) and Utah State (Nov. 10) to the PE Building, while UVU and Southern Utah battle in Cedar City on Oct. 21.
After concluding the regular season on the road against Bakersfield and Grand Canyon on Nov. 13 and 15, respectively, UVU looks to head back to Bakersfield, California, for the 2014 WAC Tournament the following week. The top six teams will qualify for the three-day conference tournament that will run Nov. 20-22, with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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