Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
A dozen days after the Big West Conference announced they approved return to play and scheduling protocols for Spring sports, we finally have a conference schedule released. Earlier today, UC Irvine released their 10-match conference schedule.
As in other years, the Anteaters will play a home-and-home series with their four in-state foes. This year, UC Irvine travels to No. 2/1 Hawai’i for the final matches of their conference slate. UC Irvine was scheduled to play at Hawai’i last year as well before the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely ended the 2020 season.
UC Irvine’s conference schedule starts with a home-and-home series with No. 9/10 UC San Diego on March 11 and 12, which would mean the Eaters will go over a year between matches played. UC Irvine last took the court on March 7 at Grand Canyon.
A UC San Diego versus UC Irvine match has gone #CincoSets each of the last five seasons. The Tritons won both matches last year, including a sweep in La Jolla.
After playing UC San Diego, the Anteaters take on No. 5/7 Long Beach State, No. 3/3 UC Santa Barbara, and CSUN over the following three weekends.
The Eaters will stay on the islands after their series with Hawai’i, as Hawai’i will host the Big West tournament on April 22-24.
Big West teams are allowed to schedule non-conference matches against Big West opponents in addition to the ten conference matches.
The minimum amount of matches played required for NCAA tournament eligibility this year is ten. Given that five NCAA Division I/II men’s volleyball teams have already paused their programs at some point this season, it is expected most if not all of the Big West teams to schedule non-conference matches.
Times for these conference matches for UC Irvine have not been set yet. All four home matches for the Anteaters will be held at the Bren Center.
Middle attacker Scott Stadick was named to the Off the Block Preseason All-American First Team while teammate outside attacker Joel Schneidmiller was named to the second team.