UVU Athletics
Lexi Thompson (left) and Brighton Taylor (right) celebrate during a home match against in-state rival Weber State at UVU's Lockhart Arena on Nov. 1, 2016. The Wolverines have a challenging schedule in 2017 that features home matches against Kansas, BYU, Utah and Long Beach State.

Utah Valley University head women's volleyball coach Sam Atoa released his team's 2017 schedule on Tuesday, and it features a highly competitive slate that includes five matches against 2016 NCAA Tournament teams and home dates against Kansas, BYU, Utah and Long Beach State.

"I am excited about the challenging schedule this year. It for sure is a tough one, but I like our chances," said Atoa. "Several of our top opponents will be at home, which will be great for our fans. We are getting better and better each year and this tough schedule will push us toward the standard that we expect for ourselves."

Returning NCAA Tournament teams Kansas, Utah, BYU and WAC foe UT Rio Grande Valley will come to Orem this season, while UVU will also make the trek to Fort Worth, Texas, during non-conference play for a three-match tournament at fellow 2016 NCAA Tournament team TCU.

Following the annual Green and White Scrimmage on Aug 22, the Wolverines will officially open their 2017 campaign with a trio of matches on Aug. 25-26, at the SJSU/USF Invitational in San Jose and San Francisco, California. There, the Wolverines will face off against Pepperdine of the Big West, as well as Fresno State and Nevada of the Mountain West. Following the opening-season tournament, the Wolverines will head to Cedar City for their first of five in-state matches on the season when they face Southern Utah on Aug. 29.

Utah Valley will then return home to host the three-day Wolverine Invitational on Aug. 31-Sept. 2. UVU will first take on the 2016 Big 12 Champion and No. 5 national-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Aug. 31, before facing Montana on Sept. 1 and Long Beach State on Sept. 2. The Wolverines will then hit the road for a Labor Day contest at Idaho State on Sept. 4, before heading to Logan for an in-state matchup with Utah State on Sept. 5. UVU will then close preseason tournament play at the TCU Fight in the Fort on Sept. 8-9, in Fort Worth, Texas. The Wolverines will face Lehigh on Sept. 8, as well as Duke and the host Horned Frogs at the two-day event on Sept. 9.

UVU will then go head-to-head against three more in-state rivals the following week. It will first take on Weber State in Ogden on Sept. 13, before hosting Utah and BYU on Sept. 15 and 16, respectively. Both the Utah and BYU matches will be a part of Utah Valley University's Homecoming festivities, and Sept. 16's match against the West Coast Conference Champion Cougars will also mark a UCCU Crosstown Clash between UVU and BYU.

The Wolverines will then begin their fifth season of Western Athletic Conference play at Seattle University on Sept. 23. UVU will play a home-and-home series with all seven WAC foes between Sept. 23 and Nov. 11. Utah Valley, which posted its best finish in WAC play in 2016 by tying for second place with a 10-4 conference clip, will cap its regular season with a home match against Chicago State on Nov. 11.

UVU, which earned the two seed and a runner-up finish at last year's WAC Tournament, will then head to Edinburg, Texas, for the 2017 Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Nov. 16-18. The winner of the championship event will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Not only will Utah Valley face off against five NCAA Tournament teams this season, but it will also take on opponents from a number of highly profiled conferences, including the Big 12, Pac-12, ACC, Mountain West, Big West, Big Sky, Patriot League and the WAC.

After playing the majority of its home matches in the UCCU Center in 2016, UVU will play all its home contests in 2017 in the newly named and renovated Lockhart Arena (formerly the UVU PE Building).

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.