Seven matches against MIVA teams to open the season and a 14-match conference season highlights St. Francis’ 2012 schedule as the team last week releases its regular season schedule for the upcoming season
The Red Flashes finished last season in fifth place in the EIVA Tait Division and lost in the opening round of the conference tournament. St. Francis coach Mike Rumbaugh has six starters returning for the upcoming season, including Second-Team All-EIVA libero John Wappler.
Check out the five things to take away from St. Francis’ schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. Opening the EIVA at home
St. Francis will open conference play with five of its first seven EIVA matches at home. Of these home matches three will be against teams that reached the EIVA Tournament semifinals last season — Rutgers-Newark on Feb. 11, George Mason on Feb. 24 and Penn State on March 17. The EIVA for 2012 expanded its conference season from 10 to 14 matches. In addition, only the top four EIVA teams at the end of the regular season will make the conference tournament — a three team decrease from last season. These changes were made after three teams left the Division I-II conference to compete for the inaugural NCAA Division III championship. The Red Flashes have not missed the EIVA Tournament since 2002.
2. Getting MIVA tested
The Red Flashes will open their season with a tour of the MIVA. All seven of St. Francis’ matches during the first three weeks of the season will be against five MIVA schools — IPFW, Ball State, Ohio State, Lewis and Loyola. St. Francis in recent years has played each of these teams in non-conference play. However, the matches are usually spread out throughout the entire season. Following its road match against Loyola on Jan. 28, St. Francis’ only matches versus the MIVA will be against Grand Canyon on Feb. 26 and at Ohio State on March 2. St. Francis was 1-9 against the MIVA last season with its only victory coming against Loyola in January.
3. Trip to the Carolinas
For the first time in their program history, the Red Flashes will travel south to play a road match a Conference Carolinas team. St. Francis will have a two-match road trip in early March against Pfeifer and the defending Conference Carolinas regular season champions Mount Olive. The Conference Carolinas is entering its third year of existence and will be eligible for a NCAA Tournament automatic berth in 2014. Along with these Conference Carolinas matches, St. Francis will play home matches against Mount Olive and Lees-McRae. St. Francis is 7-1 all-time versus current Conference Carolinas teams, including 5-0 against Mount Olive. Lees-McRae, which defeated the Red Flashes in 2003, remains the only Conference Carolinas team to defeat St. Francis.
4. Juniata series renewed
Despite being in separate conferences, St. Francis and Juniata will play each other in the 2012 season. The two in-state rivals will play a non-conference match on Feb. 4 at St. Francis. Juniata announced earlier this year that it would leave the EIVA this upcoming season to join the Continental Volleyball Conference and compete for the NCAA Division III championship. This will be the 23 consecutive season that St. Francis and Juniata have play each other. Juniata leads the all-time series 43-17, but the teams last season split their two matches against each other.
5. Playing Penn State
The Red Flashes will attempt to get their first victory in program history against the most dominant EIVA team. St. Francis will play the 13-time defending EIVA champions Penn State on March 17 at home and on the road in its regular season finale April 21. The Red Flashes are 0-29 all-time against the Nittany Lions, including losing both matches to Penn State in four games last season. In the 27 years of playing each other, St. Francis has never forced Penn State to a fifth game and has won a combined total of seven games.
St. Francis regular season schedule
7 p.m. Jan. 13 vs. IPFW
4 p.m. Jan. 14 vs. Ball State
7 p.m. Jan. 20 at IPFW
7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Ball State
3 p.m. Jan. 22 at Ohio State
7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Lewis
7 p.m. Jan. 28 at Loyola
7 p.m. Feb. 3 vs. Juniata
7 p.m. Feb. 4 vs. Mount Olive
7 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. NJIT*
4 p.m. Feb. 11 vs. Rutgers-Newark*
7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Sacred Heart*
4 p.m. Feb. 18 at Harvard*
7 p.m. Feb. 24 vs. George Mason*
2 p.m. Feb. 25 vs. Princeton*
4 p.m. Feb. 26 at Grand Canyon
7 p.m. March 2 vs. Ohio State
7 p.m. March 5 at Mount Olive
7 p.m. March 6 at Pfeifer
7 p.m. March 17 vs. Penn State*
7 p.m. March 23 at Rutgers-Newark*
7 p.m. March 24 at NJIT*
7 p.m. March 30 at George Mason*
2 p.m. March 31 at Princeton*
7 p.m. April 5 vs. Sacred Heart*
7 p.m. April 6 vs. Harvard*
7 p.m. April 14 vs. Lees-McRae
7 p.m. April 21 at Penn State*
*Denotes EIVA match
All times EST