Valparaiso volleyball head coach Carin Avery announced today the Crusaders’ schedule for the upcoming 2011 campaign, a slate which includes 10 matches against teams which won 20 or more contests a season ago, as well as Valpo’s first in-season tournament at the ARC in four years. Valparaiso enters the 2011 season having won 20 or more matches each of the last nine years.
“Even though we lost four starters from last year’s team, we had a great spring with a full roster of underclassmen and we felt great after the spring season was over,” said Avery. “We have one of the toughest early-season schedules that we have ever had here this coming season. It should be to our advantage to play such great competition so early, which will hopefully prepare us for the highly competitive Horizon League season.”
The season begins with perhaps the Crusaders’ toughest test on the schedule, as Valpo opens Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. CDT against Ohio State, which won 24 matches last year and was ranked #19 in the final AVCA poll of the 2010 season. The Crusaders will face the Buckeyes as part of the WVU Mountaineer Invitational Aug. 26-27, while Valpo will also take on Robert Morris and New Hampshire in addition to host West Virginia.
The next weekend brings the Crusaders home to the Athletics-Recreation Center for the Marriott Volley Brawl Sept. 2-3. Valpo welcomes Ball State, which won 24 matches a season ago, Murray State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Evansville to the ARC for the five-team round-robin event, which will consist of 10 total matches over the two days. The Crusaders will play at 11:30 a.m. both days, at 7 p.m. against Ball State on Friday evening and then close their action against Evansville at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, prior to the Valpo football night game.
Valpo’s slate of early-season tournaments concludes with a pair of short trips, as the Crusaders play at Notre Dame’s Golden Dome Invitational Sept. 9-11 and at the DePaul Invitational Sept. 16-17. The Crusaders will face off against Portland and Lipscomb in addition to the host Irish at the first tournament, while they will take on Kansas and San Diego State as well as DePaul at the latter event.
The Horizon League double round-robin schedule gets off to an early start in 2011, as Valpo will host UIC on Sept. 14, mid-week in between the final two tournaments. The Crusaders will face off against each of the league’s other eight teams twice, once at the ARC and once on the road, including fellow 20-win squads from a season ago in Butler, Cleveland State and Milwaukee. The league schedule wraps up with a home match against Milwaukee on Nov. 11.
The Horizon League Championship will be contested among the league’s top-six teams starting on Nov. 18 on the campus of the regular-season champion, with the winner of the tournament earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Valpo’s regular season comes to an end the weekend following the league tournament, as the Crusaders travel to Kalamazoo for a match Nov. 26 against Western Michigan.