A potential rematch of last season’s national title match and playing home matches against two MPSF schools highlights the 2012 Ohio State regular season schedule that the team released Tuesday.
Ohio State won 2011 NCAA championship and became to the first Midwest school in NCAA men’s volleyball history to legally win the national title. The Buckeyes have three returning starters for the upcoming season, including All-American outside attacker Shawn Sangrey.
Check out the five things to take away from Ohio State’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. UC Santa Barbara Invitational
A potential rematch of the 2011 NCAA national championship match between Ohio State and UC Santa Barbara could take place during the first week of the 2012 regular season. Ohio State will travel California to open its season at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational. The bracket for the two-day non-conference tournament has not been released, but it will include the host school UC Santa Barbara along with several other top MPSF teams such as BYU, UCLA and UC Irvine. The Buckeyes defeated the Gauchos in five games in May to win their first national title in program history. This is the first time Ohio State will participate in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational, which in recent years was comprised of just West Coast teams. If Ohio State and UC Santa Barbara meet in this tournament it would be the first time since 1996 that two teams from different conferences that played in the NCAA championship will face each other the following regular season.
2. Best team east of the Mississippi River
Another historical footnote can be added to the Penn State and Ohio State rivalry when the two teams meet Jan. 14 in Columbus, Ohio. For the first time in NCAA men’s volleyball history, two non-West Coast teams that have won national championships will play against each other. Penn State became the first non-West Coast team to win the NCAA championship in 1994 and 2008, while Ohio State became the first MIVA team to legally win the championship in May. Ohio State and Penn State in recent years have been the two best non-West Coast men’s volleyball teams — each reaching the last four Final Fours. In addition, their annual two non-conference matches against each other have played a significant role in determining seeding for the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will also play on March 3 in University Park, Pa.
3. MIVA championship rematch
The rematch of the 2011 MIVA championship match won’t take place until the middle of the season. Ohio State and Loyola will play each other Feb. 25 in Chicago and March 30 in Columbus, Ohio — the first meetings between the two teams since the Buckeyes defeated the Ramblers in four games to the MIVA championship last season. Ohio State in its run of four consecutive MIVA titles has defeated Loyola in the conference championship match the last two seasons. Loyola has six starters returning this season, including All-American outside attacker Mike Bunting.
4. Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational
For the first time in three years, the Buckeyes will play a home match against a West Coast school. Ohio State will play Stanford and Pacific in the inaugural Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational on Jan. 27-28 in Columbus, Ohio. Stanford, which finished the 2011 regular season No. 3 in the national rankings, was the last West Coast team to travel to Ohio State in January 2009. The Cardinal in that match swept the Buckeyes and went on to win the 2010 NCAA championship. Pacific and Ohio State will play each other for the first time since 2002 when the Buckeyes swept a two-match series against the Tigers. This invitational is named in honor of Ohio State’s first men’s volleyball coach Ken Dunlap. Dunlap was named the MIVA Coach of the Year twice in the 1960s and helped lead the Buckeyes to their first MIVA championship in 1969.
5. The long road trip
The Buckeyes this upcoming season will have one of the program’s longest stretches of road matches since the turn of the century. Eight of the Ohio State’s nine matches from Feb. 23 to March 24 will be on the road. Ohio State during this stretch will play road matches against several of the top MIVA teams — including Ball State, Loyola and Lewis — and it will travel to play Penn State, the 13-time defending EIVA champions. The Buckeyes’ lone home match in this month-long span will be a non-conference match against NJIT on March 10. Ohio State last season during its season-long six match road trip went 3-3 with losses to UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Lewis.
Ohio State regular season schedule
Jan. 6-7 at UC Santa Barbara Invitational
7 p.m. Jan. 13 vs. Lees-McRae
7 p.m. Jan. 14 vs. Penn State
7 p.m. Jan. 17 vs. Sacred Heart
7 p.m. Jan. 19 vs. George Mason
3 p.m. Jan. 22 vs. St. Francis
7 p.m. Jan. 27 vs. Pacific
7 p.m. Jan. 28 vs. Stanford
5 p.m. Feb. 3 vs. Cal Baptist (at Penn State Invitational)
5 p.m. Feb. 4 vs. Mount Olive (at Penn State Invitational)
7 p.m. Feb. 10 at IPFW*
7 p.m. Feb. 17 vs. Ball State*
3 p.m. Feb. 19 vs. Carthage
8 p.m. Feb. 23 at Lewis*
8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Loyola*
7 p.m. March 2 at St. Francis
7 p.m. March 3 at Penn State
7 p.m. March 10 vs. NJIT
5 p.m. March 18 at Ball State*
7 p.m. March 23 at Quincy*
7 p.m. March 24 at Quincy*
7 p.m. March 30 vs. Loyola*
7 p.m. March 31 vs. Lewis*
7 p.m. April 5 vs. Grand Canyon*
7 p.m. April 6 vs. Grand Canyon*
7 p.m. April 13 vs. IPFW*
7 p.m. April 15 at George Mason
*Denotes MIVA match
All times EST