Non-conference matches against USC and Pepperdine and a rematch against Penn State highlights the 2012 George Mason regular season schedule that the team released Tuesday.
The Patriots finished last season in second place in the EIVA Tait Division and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals. George Mason has four starters returning for the upcoming season, including All-EIVA outside attacker Mark Jones.
Check out the five things to take away from George Mason’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. West Coast road trip
For the first time since 2009, the Patriots will travel to the West Coast to play non-conference matches. George Mason will have a two-match California road trip with matches against USC on March 23 and Pepperdine on March 24. The Trojans ended last season in the NCAA Tournament semifinals and became the first team in 15 years to be ranked No. 1 throughout the regular season, while the Waves missed the MPSF Tournament for the first time in their program history. George Mason is 0-6 all-time against USC and 0-5 all-time against Pepperdine. This will be the fifth time since the 2003 season that the Patriots have traveled to the West Coast for non-conference matches. George Mason is 1-10 on its last four West Coast road trips with its only victory coming against UC San Diego in 2006.
2. Opening with the MIVA
George Mason will face plenty of MIVA teams to begin its regular season. The Patriots in the first three weeks of the regular season will play seven non-conference matches against MIVA teams. George Mason will have a two-match homestand against IPFW and Ball State before starting a five-match road trip with matches against Ohio State, Ball State, IPFW, Loyola and Lewis. George Mason will play 11 non-conference matches against MIVA teams this upcoming season — a three-match increase from 2011. This is also the most MIVA non-conference matches that the Patriots will play in a single-season in their recent program history. George Mason last season went 2-6 against the MIVA defeating Ball State and Lewis.
3. Penn State rivalry
One of the oldest East Coast men’s volleyball rivalries will be renewed this upcoming season as George Mason and Penn State will play conference matches against each other Feb. 25 in University Park, Pa., and March 31 in Fairfax, Va. Penn State and George Mason finished last season in first and second place in the EIVA standings and historically have been two of the top schools in the conference. The two programs have met 101 previous times with the Nittany Lions leading the all-time series 87-14. However, George Mason in 2008 remains the last team to defeat Penn State in conference play. The Nittany Lions are on a 32-match conference winning streak and have won 13 consecutive EIVA championships.
4. Late season EIVA push
If George Mason reaches the EIVA Tournament it likely will be the result of its performance in the final month of the regular season. The Patriots will play seven of their 14 EIVA matches in the final four weeks of the regular season. The EIVA Tournament this season will be comprised of the top four teams in the conference standings. In previous years, the conference tournament had been comprised of seven teams. The EIVA made this change after three schools left the conference to compete for the inaugural NCAA Division III championship in 2012. George Mason has not missed the EIVA Tournament in more than five years.
5. New EIVA destination
The newly configured EIVA schedule will result in George Mason traveling to a historically unlikely destination this season: Harvard. George Mason will play a road match against Harvard on Feb. 10 — the first time George Mason has traveled to Cambridge, Mass., since 1984. The EIVA this season increased the amount of conference matches from 10 to 14. Each EIVA team with play a home and road match against the other seven schools in the conference. Despite both George Mason and Harvard being in the EIVA for more than 10 years, the two schools have met four times. The Patriots lead the all-time series 4-0 but have never played the Crimson in a conference match.
2012 George Mason regular season schedule
7 p.m. Jan. 13 vs. IPFW
7 p.m. Jan. 14 vs. Ball State
7 p.m. Jan. 19 at Ohio State
7 p.m. Jan. 20 at Ball State
7 p.m. Jan. 21 at IPFW
8 p.m. Jan. 27 at Loyola
8 p.m. Jan. 28 at Lewis
7 p.m. Feb. 4 at Juniata
7 p.m. Feb. 10 at Harvard*
7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at Sacred Heart*
7 p.m. Feb. 17 vs. Loyola
7 p.m. Feb. 18 vs. Lewis
7 p.m. Feb. 24 at St. Francis*
7 p.m. Feb. 25 at Penn State*
7 p.m. Feb. 27 vs. Grand Canyon
7 p.m. March 2 vs. Harvard*
4 p.m. March 3 vs. Sacred Heart*
3 p.m. March 10 at Princeton*
10 p.m. March 23 at USC
10 p.m. March 24 at Pepperdine
7 p.m. March 30 vs. St. Francis*
7 p.m. March 31 vs. Penn State*
7 p.m. April 6 at NJIT*
7 p.m. April 7 at Rutgers-Newark*
7 p.m. April 14 vs. NJIT*
3 p.m. April 15 vs. Ohio State
7 p.m. April 20 vs. Rutgers-Newark*
4 p.m. April 21 vs. Princeton*
*Denotes EIVA match
All times EST