The two schools from the East Coast that won conference regular season championships last year will continue their non-conference series in 2014.
Mount Olive recently released its schedule for the upcoming season that was highlighted with a road match against Penn State on Jan. 31.
This will be the fourth consecutive season that the Trojans and Nittany Lions have played each other at Rec Hall. Penn State has swept Mount Olive in the three previous meetings, but the Trojans did force one of the games to overtime last season.
Penn State finished last season winning its 15 consecutive EIVA championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. A majority of starters also return this year for the Nittany Lions, including All-American outside attacker Aaron Russell.
Mount Olive during the 2013 regular season lost one conference match and won the Conference Carolinas regular season championship, but the team was upset in the conference tournament semifinals.
Unlike previous seasons, this Penn State and Mount Olive non-conference match could be a preview of an NCAA Tournament match.
The Conference Carolinas starting in 2014 will receive an automatic bid to the five-team NCAA Tournament. The NCAA men’s volleyball committee also announced in June that for the upcoming season the conference champions from the EIVA and Conference Carolinas will play each other in the newly created NCAA Tournament play-in match.
Along with its match against Penn State, Mount Olive in 2014 will play three other non-conference road matches against teams that finished last season ranked in national coaches poll. Mount Olive will play Lewis and the defending-MIVA champions Loyola in January before returning to the Midwest to play Ball State in March.
The Trojans have never defeated a nationally ranked team in their program history. However, the team has one victory against an EIVA opponent in non-conference play during each of the last two seasons.