King schedules challenging Midwest road trip to open 2020 season

Photo courtesy of Dakota Bastin and King athletics

The opening weekend of the 2020 college men’s volleyball season has the potential to provide a preview of a NCAA Tournament match-up.

King as part of unveiling its regular season schedule announced it will open the season on the road against the defending MIVA champions Lewis on Jan. 3 and Loyola on Jan. 4.

The Tornado were a point away last season from repeating as ConfCarolinas champions and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. However, King was unable to convert on a match-point in the fifth game of the conference tournament finals and lost to Barton in overtime.

Three All-ConfCarolinas starters return for the Tornado in 2020, including outside attacker Sean Kohlhase. Kohlhase finished last season among the national leaders and fifth in the ConfCarolinas with a 3.37 kills per game average, including having a combined 46 kills in the Tornado’s three conference tournament matches.

This will be the third consecutive year that King has scheduled non-conference matches versus both Lewis and Loyola. The Tornado are winless all-time against the two MIVA schools and opened the 2019 season with home losses to both teams.

Lewis won the MIVA Tournament and defeated USC in the NCAA Tournament opening round to advance to the semifinals.

Despite the graduation of the 2019 MIVA Player of the Year setter Matt Yoshiomoto, the Flyers still return All-American outside attacker Ryan Coenen and All-American middle attacker Tyler Mitchem. Coenen was among the national leaders averaging 3.25 kills per game in 2019, while Mitchem had a nation-best .504 attack percentage and was a finalist for the Ryan Millar Award.

Loyola’s run last season at returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning the national title in 2015 ended with a loss to Lewis in the MIVA Tournament finals. All-MIVA setter Garrett Zolg returns for his third season in the Ramblers starting lineup after guiding the offense to finish in the nation’s top 10 last season with a .306 attack percentage.

These season opening matches will be the first of three non-conference matches for the Tornado versus teams that ended last season ranked in the national coaches poll and national media poll.

King will play host to the defending NCAA Tournament finalists Hawai’i on Jan. 21. This match will be part of Hawai’i’s Tennessee road trip that also features a match against Lincoln Memorial.

King 2020 schedule

Jan. 3 at Lewis
Jan. 4 at Loyola
Jan. 8 at Tusculum
Jan. 10 vs. Urbana
Jan. 21 vs. Hawai’i
Jan. 24 vs. St. Francis
Jan. 25 vs. Belmont Abbey
Jan. 31 vs. Lees-McRae
Feb. 1 vs. Queens
Feb. 7 vs. Emmanuel
Feb. 8 vs. Erskine
Feb. 11 at North Greenville
Feb. 14 at Lincoln Memorial
Feb. 18 at Limestone
Feb. 26 at Lees-McRae
Feb. 28 at Mount Olive
Feb. 29 at Barton
March 3 vs. Tusculum
March 5 vs. Charleston
March 12 vs. Alderson Broaddus
March 14 at Belmont Abbey
March 18 at Queens
March 20 vs. Mount Olive
March 21 vs. Barton
March 24 vs. Lincoln Memorial
March 27 at Emmanuel
March 28 at Erskine
March 31 vs. North Greenville
April 4 vs. Limestone
April 10 at Charleston