One year away from joining the NCAA, the NAIA national finalists Lindenwood increased the strength of its 2012 schedule with more NCAA opponents.
Lindenwood last week released its schedule for the upcoming season that will feature 11 matches against NCAA Division I-II teams — a five-match increase from the previous season.
Lindenwood is entering second year of a four-year transition period from the NAIA to becoming a NCAA Division II member. This will be the final season that Lindenwood will compete in the NAIA before becoming a provisional NCAA member for the 2013 men’s volleyball season.
The Lions ended last season No. 2 in the NAIA coaches poll and lost in the National Championship semifinals. Lindenwood also went 3-3 in non-conference matches against the MIVA in 2011.
Nine of the Lions’ 11 NCAA Division I-II opponents in 2012 are from the MIVA.
Lindenwood opens the season on the road against Loyola, which finished last season in the top 15 coaches poll, on Jan. 14 before playing Quincy on Aug. 20 in its home opener. It will also play Quincy on the road in its regular season finale April 15.
Quincy is one of four MIVA teams that Lindenwood will play home-and-home non-conference matches against in the 2012 season.
Ball State for the first time in its recent program history will play a road match against Lindenwood on April 15. The two teams will meet prior to that match on March 16 in Muncie, Ind.
Lewis will also travel to play Lindenwood on Feb. 25 before playing a home match against the Lions on March 17.
Both Lewis and Ball State were nationally ranked throughout the 2011 season with the Flyers finishing in top 15 of the final coaches poll.
In addition, Lindenwood with travel to the West Coast to play a two-match road series against Grand Canyon on March 30-31.
Along with these matches versus the MIVA, Lindenwood will play two non-conference matches against Cal Baptist on March 26 and March 28. The defending-NAIA champions Cal Baptist is also in the process of transitioning from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II.
Geographically, the MIVA would be the most likely conference for Lindenwood to join once it becomes a NCAA member.
The MIVA in its 50-year history has never had a team from Missouri in the Division I-II portaion of its conference. However, MIVA has not limited its geographic boundaries in the past — as evident when it added Grand Canyon in 2009.
Lindenwood could join the MIVA or any other Division I-II conference for the 2013 season, but as a NCAA provisional member would be ineligible for postseason competition that season. If Lindenwood meets all NCAA expectations, the school would become a full NCAA member for the 2013-14 school year.
Lindenwood 2012 schedule
Jan. 14 at Loyola
Jan. 20 vs. Quincy
Jan. 25 vs. Missouri Baptist
Feb. 3-4 at Lindenwood Invitational
Feb. 11 at Milwaukee School of Engineering
Feb. 12 at Carthage
Feb. 14 vs. Fontbonne
Feb. 17 at Limestone
Feb. 18 at Limestone
Feb. 25 vs. Lewis
March 2-3 at Lindenwood Division II Tournament
March 6 at Fontbonne
March 9-10 at Fontbonne University Tournament
March 16 at Ball State
March 17 at Lewis
March 20 at Missouri Baptist
March 26 at Cal Baptist
March 27 at Hope International
March 28 at Cal Baptist
March 30 at Grand Canyon
March 31 at Grand Canyon
April 14 vs. Ball State
April 15 at Quincy