Harvard will increase its non-conference strength of schedule for the upcoming season with more matches against the MIVA.
The Crimson recently unveiled their 2014 schedule that features a program-record four non-conference matches versus MIVA opponents, including the school’s first meetings with Ball State and Ohio State
This is the second time in Harvard’s program history that it will played more than one non-conference match against a MIVA team during a single-season. The schedule increase also comes one year after Harvard won a postseason match and reached the EIVA Tournament championship match for the first time in its program’s 34-year history.
Harvard will play Ball State on March 16 and Ohio State on March 18 as part of a Midwest road trip. Both the Cardinals and Buckeyes return a majority of starters after finishing last season ranked in the national coaches poll.
Along with its road matches against the MIVA, Harvard will open its home season with against the last two MIVA championships: Lewis on Jan. 24 and Loyola on Jan. 25.
Lewis returns multiple All-American selections after winning the 2013 MIVA regular season championship, while Loyola defeated Lewis in the conference tournament championship match last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Harvard has never defeated a MIVA opponent with the most recent non-conference loss coming against Loyola in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic semifinals last season. In addition, the Crimson lost their only previous meeting against the Flyers in 2006.
The non-conference schedule for Harvard with an increased emphasis on playing the MIVA comes months after the NCAA released a new RPI formula for college men’s volleyball.
The RPI starting last season ranked the four conferences with the two lowest ranked conferences being required to have their conference champions play in the newly created NCAA Tournament play-in match for the following season. The EIVA last season finished the RPI in last place and will have to play the champions from the Conference Carolinas in the 2014 play-in match.