Sacred Heart releases 2012 schedule: 5 things to know about the schedule

The first schedule for a team in the new-look EIVA is out as Sacred Heart announced its 2012 regular season schedule earlier this week.

Sacred Heart, along with the other seven EIVA teams, will play 14 conference matches — a four match increase from last season.

The Pioneers last season finished in third place in the EIVA Hay Division and failed to qualify for the EIVA Tournament. Sacred Heart have four starters returning, including outside attacker Enzo Mackenzie who was named to the Second-Team All-EIVA as a freshman.

Check out the five things to take away from Sacred Heart’s schedule for the 2012 season.


Five things to know about the schedule

1. February determines postseason fate
If Sacred Heart is going to be one of the four EIVA teams to make the conference tournament, it will largely depend on how well the team performs in February. The Pioneers will play six of their 14 conference matches in February — including home matches against the top two EIVA teams last year, Penn State and George Mason. Sacred Heart will also play Princeton and St. Francis at home before traveling for road matches against NJIT and Harvard. Unlike previous seasons, the EIVA will be comprised of one eight-team division and the top four teams at the end of the regular season will qualify for the EIVA Tournament. The EIVA reduced its conference tournament field from seven teams in May after three schools left the conference to compete for the inaugural NCAA Division III men’s volleyball championship. Sacred Heart last reached the EIVA Tournament in 2010 and has never won a match in the conference tournament.

2. Penn State at home
For the first time in its program history, Sacred Heart will play a home match against Penn State. The Pioneers will play host to the Nittany Lions on Feb. 18 as part of a five match homestand. Penn State has won 13 consecutive EIVA championships and has not lost a conference match since 2008. Sacred Heart is 0-2 all-time against Penn State with the two teams last meeting in the 2004 EIVA Tournament quarterfinals, which the Nittany Lions won in three games. This will likely be first time in more than five years that Sacred Heart will have a home match against a Division I-II nationally ranked team.

3. Staying on the East Coast
All but two of Sacred Heart’s 23 regular season matches will be on the East Coast. In addition, Sacred Heart only travels south of Pennsylvania for a four-match road trip in March that includes a conference match against George Mason and non-confernce matches against three Conference Carolinas teams. The furthest west Sacred Heart will travel this season is to play road matches against Ohio State and Ball State to open its season in January. This is the second consecutive season that the furthest west Sacred Heart will travel is to play Ball State in Muncie, Ind. The Pioneers lost last season’s road match to the Cardinals in five games.

4. The long bye week
Sacred Heart following a four-match road trip in early March will have a 16-day layoff before playing its next match March 24 against Harvard. The more than two weeks between matches is the longest layoff among the three teams that have already released their 2012 schedules. The Pioneers in recent years, though, have not played any matches in mid-March. Sacred Heart had an 11-day break in March last season and a 13-day layoff during the 2010 season. After the bye week, Sacred Heart will play four conference matches during a two-week stretch with home matches against Harvard and St. Francis and road matches against St. Francis and Penn State.

5. Late start to the season
Sacred Heart will have plenty of time to practice for its season opener against the defending NCAA champions Ohio State. The Pioneers will not play the Buckeyes until Jan. 17 — the third week of the regular season. This will be one of the latest starts to the season for any team in the nation. Sacred Heart traditionally has started its season later than most teams and has even had its season opener later than Jan. 17 four times in the last five years. The Pioneers are 1-3 in season openers since 2008, including a three-game road loss to George Mason last season.

Sacred Heart regular season schedule

Jan. 17 at Ohio State
Jan. 18 at Ball State
Jan. 27 at Springfield
Jan. 31 at Rutgers-Newark*
Feb. 10 vs. Princeton*
Feb. 11 vs. George Mason*
Feb. 12 vs. Juniata
Feb. 17 vs. St. Francis*
Feb. 18 vs. Penn State*
Feb. 21 at NJIT*
Feb. 25 at Harvard*
March 2 at Princeton*
March 3 at George Mason*
March 6 at Lees-McRae
March 7 at Limestone
March 8 at Pfeiffer
March 24 vs. Harvard*
March 31 vs. Rutgers-Newark*
April 6 at St. Francis*
April 7 at Penn State*
April 8 at Juniata
April 11 vs. Stevens Tech
April 21 vs. NJIT*

*Denotes EIVA match