AU Releases 2015 Volleyball Schedule
The Eagles have a scheduled four regular-season tournaments and matches against three 2014 NCAA tournament qualifiers.
Barry Goldberg, the head volleyball coach at AU, unveiled the 2015 schedule for his reigning Patriot League championship team on Monday, June 15. The Eagles, looking to build on last year’s 26-7 record and NCAA Tournament appearance, have a schedule that includes four regular-season tournaments and matches against three 2014 NCAA tournament qualifiers.
The Eagles start the year, as they have the past five seasons, against a local opponent in the annual D.C. Volleyball Challenge, this year facing Howard University at Bender Arena on Aug. 28. The Eagles will then face George Mason University and Georgetown University in Fairfax, Va. in the second day of the competition between D.C. area schools.
The Eagles will travel for a non-conference regular season tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii, against 2014 NCAA qualifiers Hawaii and UCLA and Big Ten conference member Iowa on Sept. 4-6 in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic.
“[The] second week out in Hawaii will be a tester, with UCLA, a team in the Sweet Sixteen last year, and Hawaii, a team that’s been in the NCAAs more than just about every other team in the country [recently],” Goldberg said. “Iowa also is a really good team and will be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, so we have our work cut out for us.”
The Eagles then will participate in a tournament at Columbia University on the weekend of Sept.11-12 with matches against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and the host school. The team rounds out its slate of non-conference tournaments by hosting the AU Volleyball Classic on the weekend of Sept. 18-19 with matches against the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
While the Eagles will spend their season traveling around the country to face top-ranked opponents, the strongest non-conference opponent will appear early in the season at Bender Arena. AU will host 2014 NCAA quarterfinalist Florida on Aug. 30 in the ninth annual “Bender Blue Out.”
“The Florida match is definitely the one we want to test ourselves with,” Goldberg said. “[Florida] will be in the top three or four in the country when we start the season next year. It will be an electric opportunity for us to potentially make a big mark on the nation by having Florida and being able to compete well with them.”
Within the Patriot League, the Eagles have won 12 of the last 14 regular season and tournament titles, and they will open up conference play this year against Lafayette College on Sept. 25. The Leopards finished 3-13 within the conference in 2014 and fell to the Eagles 0-3 in both their meetings last season. On Sept. 26, the Eagles will travel to Bucknell University for their second Patriot League match of the year, and the conference home opener for AU is Oct. 2 against Army.
“We believe this season will be one of the most competitive Patriot League seasons that we’ve ever had,” Goldberg said. “We’ve got two or three other teams that are getting closer and closer to potentially get to the level of being an NCAA at-large team.”
The Eagles will play non-conference opponents Bethune-Cookman University and George Washington University on Oct. 16 and 21 to break up Patriot League play before closing the season with six of their final eight conference games in Bender Arena.
The Eagles complete the regular season on Nov. 13 against Loyola Maryland before looking to capture their third straight Patriot League Tournament title in the conference tournament staged from Nov. 21-22 at the site of the highest seed.
The winner of the Patriot League Tournament receives an automatic invitation to the NCAA Championship, with the first round beginning on Dec. 4 at 16 regional sites. The Eagles best performance at the NCAA Championships came in 2013 when the Eagles defeated Georgia and Duke en route to a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
“We’re looking forward to having a good year,” Goldberg said. “We’re going to be challenged, but we’ve got some competitors on our team, and it’ll be a really fun and exciting season for us.”