At least McKendree won’t have to deal with the cold weather of Southern Illinois walking into the arena for its season opener.
McKendree as part of releasing its 2022 schedule announced it will begin the season with a two-match non-conference road trip against Grand Canyon on Jan. 7-8.
The Bearcats started last season on an eight-match winning streak and climbed into the top 10 of the national rankings for the first time in program history. It also won its third postseason match under coach Nickie Sanlin and was one game away from reaching the MIVA Tournament finals.
The team for the upcoming season will have to replace multiple starters who graduated but still return All-MIVA setter Ryan Serrano. Serrano ended the 2021 season among the conference leaders averaging both 9.29 assists per game and 1.79 digs per game.
Grand Canyon returns a majority of its starters after reaching the MPSF Tournament semifinals and being in the top 10 of both the national coaches poll and national media poll.
Among the returning Antelopes include All-MPSF outside attacker Camden Gianni who was in the nation’s top 15 with a 4.00 kills per game average. Gianni also had a season-high 24 kills on a .697 attack percentage as Grand Canyon defeated USC in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.
This will be the first time the former MIVA foes have played each other since 2020.
Grand Canyon leads the all-time series 9-1 and is on a six-match winning streak with McKendree’s only win occurring in 2016.
2022 Grand Canyon regular season schedule
Jan. 7 at Grand Canyon
Jan. 8 at Grand Canyon
Jan. 21 vs. Central State
Jan. 28 at King
Jan. 29 at Lincoln Memorial
Feb. 4 vs. Maryville
Feb. 10 vs. Ohio State
Feb. 12 vs. Ball State
Feb. 19 at Lindenwood
Feb. 24 vs. Loyola
Feb. 26 at Purdue Fort Wayne
March 4 vs. Pepperdine
March 5 vs. Pepperdine
March 11 vs. Limestone (at Lindenwood)
March 12 vs. Lincoln Memorial (at Lindenwood)
March 16 at Lewis
March 19 vs. Lewis
March 24 at Loyola
March 26 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
March 31 at Ball State
April 2 at Ohio State
April 7 vs. Lindenwood
April 9 vs. Quincy