July 1, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - On the first official day of operation for the new BIG EAST Conference the Villanova volleyball team announced its schedule for the upcoming season. Head coach Josh Steinbach will begin his seventh season leading the Wildcats on August 30-31 at the Golden Grizzlies Invitational hosted by Oakland, while the home opener will be against Delaware on September 17.
There is a great deal of excitement for the new look of the BIG EAST and Villanova will open conference play at home against Georgetown on September 28. The nine conference volleyball teams will play a double round-robin schedule and a total of 16 league matches, with home-and-home competition against each of the other eight BIG EAST teams.
"With the new format of the BIG EAST this is going to be the most exciting conference schedule we have ever had," Steinbach said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to play against similar teams in a league where we will be in immediate contention for a spot in the conference tournament."
At the end of the regular season the top four teams in the conference standings will qualify for the BIG EAST Championship, which will be hosted on November 29-30 at league newcomer Creighton. The conference tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Early in the season the Wildcats will prepare for the conference schedule with four tournaments, which includes hosting the annual Villanova Classic at Jake Nevin Field House on September 20-21. During their home tournament the Wildcats will welcome Norfolk State, Penn and Sacred Heart after opening the home schedule against Delaware earlier in the same week.
The highlight of the tournament schedule will come on September 6-7 when Villanova travels to Nebraska for a pair of matches, including a contest against the host Cornhuskers on September 6 which will be filled with family ties. Wildcats sophomore setter Emma Pettit is the daughter of former longtime Nebraska head coach Terry Pettit, who will have the court at the Bob Devaney Sports Center named in his honor prior to the Villanova match.
Other tournaments on the Wildcats schedule include the tournament at Oakland as well as the Maryland Invitational on September 13-14, which will feature familiar opponents in George Mason, New Hampshire and the host Terrapins.
"The early season schedule sets up well for a young team on the rise," Steinbach said. "We will be challenged on the road against some very good teams and it is good for our program to play against schools from some of the top conferences in the country."
Villanova returns 13 players, including five starters, from last season and has fortified the roster with four newcomers who will make immediate contributions to the team.