Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
The Big West Conference officially announced on Friday afternoon it approved return to play and scheduling protocols for men’s volleyball.
Before today’s announcement, there was uncertainty about spring sports in the Big West for the 2020-21 school year, as the conference in December announced the cancellation of fall sports slated to make-up their seasons in the spring.
“The Big West is excited to take the next step toward spring competition,” Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly said in a statement. “Our focus remains on the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and we will continue to evaluate the pandemic’s effect on our ability to provide a safe environment for competition. These schedule formats reflect the changes our Big West administrators, coaches and staff felt were necessary in the face of unprecedented challenges. I applaud their efforts to find solutions that move the Big West forward.”
The 10-match Big West schedule will feature a two-game series under the one opponent per week provision during conference play. Schools are permitted to schedule a third match in the series to count as a non-conference contest.
Just as was the case in the first three years of Big West men’s volleyball, the two-match series will be home-and-home, except for Hawai’i. Series involving Hawai’i will have both matches of a given series in one location.
Teams may play matches earlier in the conference schedule if both schools agree. However, if teams move up their contests and wish to play again later in the season, the second series will not count toward conference standings. Conference play begins on Thursday, March 11 and runs through Saturday, April 17.
The 2020 Big West season ended abruptly on March 13 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The last match involving a Big West men’s volleyball team was when then-No. 6/7 UC San Diego swept then-No. 10/8 Penn State in La Jolla. The last Big West men’s volleyball conference match was on March 5 when then-No. 3/3 UC Santa Barbara defeated UC San Diego in four games.
The season culminates in the Big West Men’s Volleyball Championship presented by Hawaii Tourism, which will take place at SimpliFi Arena at Sheriff Center on April 22-24.
Five of the six Big West teams are ranked in top eight of both the national coaches’ poll and the Off the Block national media poll. Eleven players were also named Off the Block Preseason All-Americans. No. 2/2 Hawai’I led all schools with four players named Preseason All-American.