Four conference champions from last season highlight the University of Evansville volleyball schedule as the Purple Aces are set for a challenging schedule in 2014.
“This is going to be a 'second-first year'. Our long term development phase is in a period of renovation. Whenever you have more people coming in than returning, it is always a process of adaptation and cohesion,” UE head coach Manolo Concepcion said. “That is why we have designed a schedule where adversity will be faced early on, in preparation for conference's matchups that will be even tougher than last year.”
Non-conference play features three NCAA Tournament participants as well as appearances in three tournaments. The season opens as the Aces make the short trip to Nashville to play in the Belmont Invitational. UE will take on Youngstown State, Kennesaw State and host Belmont, who posted a 19-14 mark a season ago.
A visit by Austin Peay opens the home portion of the schedule on Sept. 2 before Evansville travels to Kent, Ohio to take part in the Flashes Volleyball Classic. UE opens that up versus host Kent State before taking on a pair of strong foes in the latter two contests. The Aces face 2013 America East Champion New Hampshire before wrapping up the tournament against Morehead State.
The Eagles went an impressive 27-8 overall and 15-1 in league play en route to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
A huge home match on Sept. 9 pits the Aces against the University of Tennessee. The Volunteers make the trip to the Carson Center for a 7 p.m. match. Home action continues that weekend as the Aces welcome Central Michigan, DePaul and IUPUI. IUPUI finished last season at 19-14 and won the Summit League Championship.
Following a trip to Northern Kentucky on Sept. 16, the Aces will begin Missouri Valley Conference play for the remainder of the season. Evansville plays its first three league matches on the road before facing Bradley at the Carson Center on Oct. 3.
Highlighting the Valley portion of the schedule is a visit by a pair of 20-win teams to the UE campus. On Oct. 17, Missouri State (21-11) comes to town before defending MVC champion Wichita State comes in for a match the next day at 6 p.m.
Evansville makes the return trip to Wichita and Missouri State on Nov. 14 and 15. Perennial power UNI makes its trip to the Carson Center on Nov. 8 while the Aces trek to Cedar Falls on Oct. 10. The Panthers tied WSU for the top league record in 2013 at 15-3.
Senior Day will take place on Nov. 21 as UE welcomes Southern Illinois. The Salukis finished third in the conference in 2013 on the strength of a 13-5 league mark and an overall record of 20-13.
“We look forward to a schedule of challenging opponents that will help us maximize the talent of our returners, and begin the potential spurt of our incomers. It will get us a step closer to the ultimate goal of establishing a winning tradition in our program,” Concepcion continued. “The organizational culture is in place. Now, is a matter reinforcing the vision and implementing our team identity to be used in years to come.”