With the calendars turned to April, it not only means the conference tournaments ready to begin but college men’s volleyball coaches beginning to create their schedules for next season.
There are multiple factors that go into a coach creating their schedule and at times several factors that are out of a coach’s control. However, there are just some non-conference matches that volleyball fans are craving to get scheduled.
Check out the top 10 non-conference matches that would make for intriguing match-ups if they can get scheduled for the 2014 season.
1. Penn State vs. UCLA
Why this would be a good match: Next season will be the 20-year anniversary of Penn State defeating UCLA in the 1994 NCAA championship match to become the first non-West Coast team to win a national championship. This match could serve as a way to celebrate that anniversary. In addition, both teams will next season return a majority of starters and will likely be ranked in the top 10 to open the season.
2. Loyola vs. Stanford
Why this would be a good match: Each team potentially could have three all-conference starters returning and be among the preseason favorites to reach the 2014 Final Four. This match also would be appealing for Stanford to schedule as part of a Midwest road trip because Loyola is hosting the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
3. Lewis vs. BYU
Why this would be a good match: Lewis and BYU was the best non-conference series this season and even featured the Flyers rallying from a two-game deficit in the series opener at BYU. Both teams could meet again at the end of this season in the Final Four and have All-American starters returning for next year. In addition, BYU could schedule this match as part of a Midwest road trip that would include a match at Loyola, which is hosting next year’s Final Four.
4. Ohio State vs. USC
Why this would be a good match: The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced a non-conference scheduling partnership for future years in other sports and this could become a way for both teams to participate in that partnership. These teams are due to eventually schedule each other having only met four times in the last 20 years.
5. Penn State vs. Long Beach State
Why this would be a good match: Penn State and Long Beach State traditionally played each other every season in the Active Ankle Tournament, but the two schools haven’t met in the last two years. With both teams having all-conference starters returning next season, this may be a preview to a potential 2014 NCAA Tournament match.
6. Ball State vs. USC
Why this would be a good match: This match could be beneficial for both schools and for different reasons. This non-conference match if scheduled early in the season would give a young USC team more game experience before going into the MPSF season. In addition, if Ball State could land a home match against a big-name school like USC it would be a huge attraction for a volleyball-crazed community and could have more than 4,000 people in attendance.
7. Princeton vs. Hawai’i
Why this would be a good match: Both programs have shown improvement and an ability to upset nationally ranked teams this season. The match would feature several exciting young outside attacker such as Hawai’i’s Sinisa Zarkovic and Princeton’s Cody Kessel. An additional reason to schedule this match: Princeton and Hawai’i have never played each other in their programs’ histories.
8. Harvard vs. Cal State Northridge
Why this would be a good match: It’s time for a rematch after Harvard pulled the upset of 2011 beating Cal State Northridge on its home court. Both teams will have a majority of their starters returning for next season. In addition, the Crimson traditionally have also been willing to travel out the West Coast once per year.
9. IPFW vs. UC Irvine
Why this would be a good match: Coach Arnie Ball has a young IPFW team that should begin to move into the national rankings next season, while UC Irvine looks like it will continue to be a top-five ranked in 2014. UC Irvine also has a history of willing to travel so what could make this match even better is playing it as part of the four-team Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic. The winner could then advance to the title match and play the winner of the other semifinal match — ideally between Penn State and Springfield.
10. Loyola vs. Pepperdine
Why this would be a good match: A possible showdown between Pepperdine all-conference outside attacker Josh Taylor and Loyola All-American outside attacker Joseph Smalzer would provide enough intrigue for this non-conference match. In addition, scheduling Pepperdine could an alternative for Loyola rather than playing in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational again after going a combined 0-6 in the tournament the last two years.