There will be no easing into the season for Saint Francis.
The Red Flash as part of unveiling their 2024 schedule announced it will begin the season with three consecutive road matches against teams that finished last season in the top 10 of the national rankings.
Saint Francis will start the three-match road trip against the defending MIVA champions Ohio State on Jan. 8. The team will then travel to the West Coast to play UC Irvine on Jan. 10 and before traveling to play UC Irvine on Jan. 10 and Long State on Jan. 13.
Saint Francis in 2023 won the inaugural NEC regular season championship and advanced to the conference tournament finals. The Red Flash return three All-NEC starters, including setter Ryan Parker who led the conference with a 0.43 aces per game average.
The season opener will be the first time Saint Francis plays Ohio State since upsetting the Buckeyes in 2022.
Ohio State ended last season winning its first MIVA championship since 2018 and defeated King in the NCAA Tournament opening round. In addition, All-American outside attacker Jacob Pastuer, the 2023 MIVA of the Year returns after being in the nation’s top 15 with a 3.90 kills per game average last season.
Saint Francis is a combined 0-6 all-time against Long Beach State and UC Irvine.
UC Irvine upset Long Beach State in the postseason en route to reaching the Big West Tournament finals last season. All-American outside attacker Hilir Henno also was named the 2023 National Server of the Year and set a school single-season record with 87 aces.
Long Beach State rebounded from its conference tournament loss and earned at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Beach defeated Grand Canyon in the opening round and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
Along with these matches to open the season, the Red Flash will have three more non-conference matches against teams that ended last season nationally ranked.
Saint Francis will travel to play Ball State in February and then will have a home-and-home series against Penn State in March.
Saint Francis 2024 regular season schedule
Jan. 8 at Ohio State
Jan. 10 at UC Irvine
Jan. 13 at Long Beach State
Jan. 20 vs. Dominican
Jan. 20 vs. Central State
Jan. 26 vs. NJIT
Jan. 28 vs. Queens
Feb. 2 at Purdue Fort Wayne
Feb. 3 at Ball State
Feb. 9 at Charleston
Feb. 10 at Charleston
Feb. 16 at Long Island
Feb. 17 at Long Island
Feb. 23 at Sacred Heart
Feb. 24 at Sacred Heart
March 2 at George Mason
March 5 at Edward Waters
March 6 at Fort Valley State
March 11 vs. Tusculum
March 16 vs. Penn State
March 17 at Penn State
March 22 vs. Daemen
March 23 vs. Daemen
March 29 vs. Merrimack
March 30 vs. Merrimack
April 5 at D’Youville
April 6 at D’Youville
April 12 vs. Farileigh Dickinson
April 13 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson