More matches against Division I-II nationally ranked teams and two non-conference tournaments on the East Coast highlights the 2012 Cal Baptist regular season schedule that the team released Friday.
Cal Baptist last year in its final season as an NAIA team won the NAIA national championship. The Lancers enter the second year of their transition to the NCAA Division II and will be considered a NCAA provisional member ineligible for postseason competition in 2012.
Cal Baptist has four starters returning for the upcoming season, including the 2011 NAIA Player of the Year Levi Cabral.
Check out the five things to take away from Cal Baptist’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. Transition to Division II
With Cal Baptist in the midst of transitioning from the NAIA to a NCAA Division II team, the 2012 season will be its most challenging schedule in program history. The Lancers will play a program-record 17 matches against Division I-II teams, including 10 matches against teams that ended last season nationally ranked. Cal Baptist was 10-5 in matches against Division I-II teams last season. In addition, Cal Baptist had upset victories against UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara — two teams it will play in the first two weeks of the 2012 season. For its opponents, non-conference matches against Cal Baptist will have a greater importance than last year. The NCAA men’s volleyball committee only considers a team’s matches against other NCAA teams while making its seeding and at-large selections for the Final Four. Consequently, match results against Cal Baptist last season were not factored into the selection committee’s criteria.
2. Lack of home matches
Anyone wanting to see a Lancers’ home match will have few opportunities during the first three months of the season. Cal Baptist will have three home matches until mid-March before it closes out its season with a four-match homestand. After playing home matches against USC, Grand Canyon and Princeton in January, Cal Baptist will be on the road throughout February and will not have another home match until March 7 against Loyola. This will be the second fewest home matches for the Lancers in their 13-year program history and seven fewer home matches than in 2011. Cal Baptist last season was 15-0 at home and has a 22-match home winning streak dating back to the 2010 season.
3. Penn State Invitational
The Lancers will travel across the country to play two perennial Final Four teams at the Penn State Invitational on Feb. 3-4. Cal Baptist will open the two-day non-conference tournament with a match against the defending NCAA championships Ohio State. The following day it will also play Penn State, which has reached the Final Four 13 consecutive seasons. The Lancers have never played the Buckeyes and are 1-1 all-time against the Nittany Lions, with their lone victory coming at the 2007 Active Ankle Challenge. This tournament will also be the first time Cal Baptist has traveled to Penn State.
4. The Morgan Classic
The defending Morgan Classic champion Lancers will return to the Volleyball Hall of Fame tournament this upcoming season. Cal Baptist will open the four-team non-conference tournament with a semifinals match against Lees-McRae, the first Conference Carolinas team to play in the Morgan Classic. The winner of this match will play the winner of the other semifinals match between Springfield and UC Santa Cruz in the championship match. Cal Baptist last season swept Grand Canyon and Pacific to earn its first Morgan Classic championship in program history.
5. NAIA rivals reunite
Despite no longer playing in the NAIA, Cal Baptist will still play its longtime NAIA rival Lindenwood during the 2012 season. Cal Baptist will have a two-match home series against Lindenwood on March 27-28. The two teams also could meet earlier in the season as the Lancers play in the Lindenwood Tournament in early March. The Lancers are 21-6 all-time against Lindenwood. In addition, both teams have met in the NAIA championship match three times in the last 10 years. Similar to Cal Baptist, Lindenwood is transitioning to Division II. However, Lindenwood will remain eligible for the NAIA championship this upcoming season.
Cal Baptist 2012 regular season schedule
7 p.m. Jan. 4 at UC Irvine
7 p.m. Jan. 5 vs. USC
7 p.m. Jan. 11 at UC Santa Barbara
7 p.m. Jan. 20 vs. Grand Canyon
7 p.m. Jan. 25 at Long Beach State
7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Cal State Northridge
7 p.m. Jan. 30 vs. Princeton
2 p.m. Feb. 3 vs. Ohio State (at Penn State Invitational)
4 p.m. Feb. 4 at Penn State
4 p.m. Feb. 8 at Harvard
Feb. 10-11 at Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic
7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Pepperdine
6 p.m. Feb. 17 at BYU
6 p.m. Feb. 18 at BYU
7 p.m. Feb. 24 at UCLA
March 2-3 at Lindenwood Tournament
7 p.m. March 7 vs. Loyola
March 9-10 at Long Beach State Active Ankle Challenge
7 p.m. March 13 vs. Harvard
7 p.m. March 27 vs. Lindenwood
7 p.m. March 28 vs. Lindenwood
7 p.m. April 3 vs. Hope International
All times PST