Two teams will make their debut at the upcoming Outrigger Invitational, while another team will make its first appearance at the non-conference event in five years.
Hawai’i announced Wednesday that the four-team field for the 2017 Outrigger Invitational on Jan. 5-7 will feature Ball State, Erskine and Princeton.
The Outrigger Invitational is one of the oldest annual non-conference events in college men’s volleyball with each team playing three matches. The early-season event in recent years has featured a team from the MIVA, EIVA, Conference Carolinas and the host school Hawai’i.
Both Princeton and the defending Conference Carolinas champions Erskine will compete for the first time at the Outrigger Invitational.
Erskine ended last season winning a conference title and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. The Flying Fleet under new head coach Justin Brubaker return several starters, including all-conference outside attacker Roberto Perez Vargas who was among the national leaders with a 4.06 kills per game average last season.
Princeton finished 2016 in seventh place in the EIVA and missed the postseason for the first time since the EIVA changed its conference tournament to a four-team format. However, all-conference middle attacker Junior Oboh returns to the court for the Tigers and incoming freshman middle attacker George Huhmann helped the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team win a NORCECA championship this summer.
Along with the two new teams to compete at the Outrigger Invitational, Ball State will make its fifth appearance at the tournament. In addition, the Cardinals during their most recent appearance in 2011 upset the Rainbow Warriors.
Ball State finished last season tied for second place in the MIVA and at No. 13 in the national coaches poll. Among the starters from a team that won 20 matches in 2016 includes All-MIVA outside attacker Brendan Surane and All-MIVA middle attacker Matt Walsh.
Hawai’i concluded the 2016 season advancing to the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals and in the top 10 of both the national coaches poll and national media poll. The Rainbow Warriors also have multiple returning starters highlighted by Off the Block/Springbak, Inc.Freshman All-American opposite Stijn Van Tilburg.
Hawai’i is 37-27 all-time at its home tournament and won all three matches last season to win the program’s seventh Outrigger Invitational championship.