Tusculum to face challenging in-state foe King for program’s inaugural match

Photo courtesy of King athletics and Dakota Bastin

The inaugural match in Tusculum’s program history will be against one of the preseason favorites to make the NCAA Tournament.

The newest NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball program as part of unveiling its 2020 schedule on Thursday announced it will play host to King in its season opener on Jan. 8.

The two universities in East Tennessee are separated by about 50 miles. In addition, this in-state match-up will be shortest road trip for King the entire season.

King ended last season losing to Barton in a fifth-game overtime of the ConfCarolinas Tournament finals. The Tornado in that postseason match were one-point away from winning back-to-back ConfCarolinas championships and reaching the NCAA Tournament.

Among the starters returning for the Tornado includes All-ConfCarolinas outside attacker Sean Kohlhase who was fifth in the conference averaging 3.37 kills per game last season.

Tusculum announced in 2018 that it would become the third NCAA Division II school in Tennessee to start a men’s volleyball program and hired Eddie Pennington to be the team’s inaugural head coach. Pennington, a former Belmont Abbey player, previously served as an assistant coach for the Butler women’s volleyball team.

The Pioneers have 12 players on their roster for the upcoming season, including freshmen from Italy and Jamaica.

Tusculum will compete this season as an independent without a conference affiliation.

The season opener versus King will be part of four-match home stand for Tusculum that will feature matches against fellow independent teams Urbana and Lincoln Memorial. Tusculum in 2020 also will have four matches against EIVA and MIVA teams, including playing George Mason at a neutral site.

Tusculum 2020 schedule

Wednesday, Jan. 8 vs. King
Friday, Jan. 10 vs. Urbana
Saturday, Jan. 11 vs. Mount Olive
Tuesday, Jan. 14 vs. Lincoln Memorial
Friday, Jan. 17 at North Greenville
Saturday, Jan. 18 at Belmont Abbey
Saturday, Jan. 25 vs. Bluefield College
Friday, Jan. 31 at Lindenwood
Saturday, Feb. 1 at McKendree
Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. George Mason (at Charleston)
Saturday, Feb. 8 at Charleston
Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Lincoln Memorial
Friday, Feb. 14 at Alderson Broaddus
Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Lees-McRae
Friday, Feb. 21 at Indiana Tech
Saturday, Feb. 22 at Urbana
Saturday, Feb. 22 vs. St. Xavier (at Urbana)
Friday, Feb. 28 at Limestone
Saturday, Feb. 29 vs. Queens
Tuesday, March 3 at King
Tuesday, March 10 at Bluefield College
Saturday, March 14 at Randolph-Macon
Thursday, March 19 vs. Limestone
Friday, March 20 vs. Erskine
Friday, March 27 at Queens