|Volleyball announces 2013 slate|
MOSCOW – The Idaho volleyball team will play four non-conference tournaments before its 16-match Western Athletic Conference schedule - featuring six new conference opponents for the 2013 season - as head coach Debbie Buchanan announced the schedule Friday.
The Vandals get the season started Aug. 30 and 31 at the UniWyo Wyoming Invite in Laramie, Wyo. Idaho will play Montana State and Wyoming on Aug. 30 before facing Drake and Stetson on Aug. 31. The Vandals will then face Cal State Northridge, Northern Arizona and San Diego State at the Northern Arizona Fiesta Classic in Flagstaff, Ariz., Sept. 6 and 7. Boise State, Sacramento State and North Texas will be Idaho’s opponents at the Bronco Volleyball Classic in Boise, Idaho, Sept. 12-14. The Vandals will wrap up non-conference play against Washington State on Sept. 19 and Nevada on Sept. 20 at the Cougar Invite in Pullman, Wash.
“It’s a good variety of teams,” Buchanan said of the non-conference slate. “Our goal is always to play a couple tournaments that are away and a couple that are close to home. We do that with Boise and Washington State so our girls aren’t traveling for all of the non-conference season.”
Four of Idaho’s non-conference opponents finished with a top 100 RPI in 2012, out of 330 NCAA Division I teams, including all three at the NAU Fiesta Classic.
“It’s going to be a good balance of some tough RPI teams, some middle of the pack and some on the lower end,” Buchanan said. “It will be a challenge for us. We are in a little bit of a rebuilding phase because we lost six players after last year, which is a huge class, so we’re going to jump right into it.”
The Vandals enter play in the new-look WAC with a three-match home-stand against Utah Valley on Sept. 26, Cal State Bakersfield on Sept. 28 and Grand Canyon University on Sept. 30. Idaho will play a home-and-home series with each of its eight WAC opponents, with remaining home matches against UMKC on Oct. 17, Chicago State on Oct. 19, reigning WAC champion New Mexico State on Oct. 31, Texas-Pan American on Nov. 2 and Seattle U on Nov. 8.
“It’s a whole new deal, there are some good volleyball teams in there,” Buchanan said of the new-look WAC. “We are going to be challenged. We’re going to travel to some different parts of the country. Since we don’t really know much about these teams we’re going to have to get a lot of video early in the year and try to break some things down in order to get an idea of what we’re facing. It can be anybody’s match on any night.”
The WAC tournament will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., at Grand Canyon University Nov. 25-27, featuring the league’s top six teams.
The 2013 Vandals return seven players and one redshirt from last year’s squad that finished second in the WAC and reached the conference championship match. Junior middle blocker Alyssa Schultz, a first-team all-WAC selection in 2012, headlines that list, along with 2012 WAC all-freshman team selection Katelyn Peterson. Sophomore Meredith Coba will step in to set for the Vandals and Buchanan will be forced to replace six graduating seniors from 2012, including five starters.
“Our mentality and attitude are pretty good. They’re focused on the right things and thinking about the right things.” Buchanan said of the returning group. “They feel like they’re in a better spot than they’ve been in for a while, because they have this little group who has been waiting, and now it’s their turn and they’re all in it together and they’re excited about it.”