By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – First-year Green Bay volleyball head coach Michaela Franklin announced her team’s challenging 2013 schedule on Thursday. The 26-match slate includes three non-conference tournaments, 10 home matches and five opponents who appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“We are excited to release our 2013 schedule,” Franklin said. “We will face a variety of challenges this pre-season against some very talented teams, which will prepare of for Horizon League play. Although we will be a fairly young team, we look forward to the challenge and gaining the experience of playing against NCAA Tournament-caliber teams.”
Green Bay gets its season started Aug. 30-31 in DeKalb, Ill., taking on a trio of tough tests at the Northern Illinois Invitational. The Phoenix first plays host NIU on Friday, Aug. 30 before facing Ohio State and Liberty the following afternoon. The tournament will mark Green Bay’s first-ever meetings with the Buckeyes and the Flames.
All three opponents in the NIU Invitational won at least 21 matches in 2012, and two played in the NCAA Tournament. Big Ten power Ohio State went 23-11 last year and ended the regular season ranked 14th in the nation. The Buckeyes advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and enter this season with the 11th-ranked recruiting class according to PrepVolleyball.com. Liberty was 25-8 a year ago and won the Big South regular season and tournament before falling to Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tourney. The host Huskies went 21-15 and advanced to the Mid-American Conference tournament title match.
After its trip to NIU, the Phoenix heads south to Auburn, Ala., for the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge on Sept. 5-6. Green Bay opens the tournament with two matches on day one, first playing Sun Belt opponent Troy – another 21-win team from a year ago, before taking on the host Tigers from the loaded Southeastern Conference. The Phoenix is then slated to face Mercer, an Atlantic Sun squad, in the tournament finale on Sept. 6.
Green Bay has never faced Troy or Mercer. The Phoenix and the Tigers will meet for the third time in school history and second time in as many years, as Auburn won the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament in 2012.
The Phoenix plays host to in-state rival Marquette on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Franklin was an assistant for the Golden Eagles for the last four years, helping them to NCAA Tournaments in each of the last two. Marquette went 27-7 overall and 13-2 in the BIG EAST in 2012, and eventually fell to No. 21 Creighton in the NCAA First Round. Green Bay is 9-27 all-time against the Golden Eagles, with its last win coming in 1996.
After the short break from tournament play, Green Bay travels to Indianapolis Sept. 20-21 for the Butler Classic, where it will take on Butler (Sept. 20), Toledo (Sept. 21) and UT-Martin (Sept. 21) in its final regular-season invite.
The Phoenix opens the Horizon League schedule at home in the last weekend of September, welcoming Wright State (Sept. 27) and new league member Oakland (Sept. 28) to the Kress Center. Green Bay has won five of the last six matches against the Raiders, and each of the last four against the Grizzlies.
“We’re happy to be opening league play at home against Wright State and the newest addition to the league, Oakland,” Franklin said. “The Horizon League has always been a very competitive conference and we don’t expect anything different this season.”
Following the brief homestand Green Bay hits the road for four straight, traveling to Horizon League opponents Valparaiso (Oct. 4), UIC (Oct. 5) and Milwaukee (Oct. 11) before playing its final non-conference match at DePaul (Oct. 15). It marks the longest true road stretch of the season for the Phoenix.
Youngstown State and Cleveland State make the trip to the Kress Center on Oct. 18-19 to round out the first half of Green Bay’s Horizon League schedule. CSU will mark the fifth NCAA Tournament team the Phoenix will play in 2013, as the Vikings won the league’s regular season and tournament a season ago, finishing 23-7 overall and 13-1 in conference play.
Green Bay makes its first visit to Rochester, Mich., since 2001 to play Oakland on Oct. 25 to open the second half of the league schedule, and then heads to Wright State the following day. The Phoenix then returns home for three straight against UIC (Nov. 1), Valparaiso (Nov. 2) and Milwaukee (Nov. 9) before wrapping up the regular season at Cleveland State (Nov. 15) and Youngstown State (Nov. 16).
The 2013 Horizon League Championship is set for Nov. 22-24, hosted by the highest seed.
Franklin, who was hired at Green Bay on Jan. 8, will lead a Phoenix squad that includes 10 returners and three newcomers.
2013 GREEN BAY VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
NIU Invitational (DeKalb, Ill.)
30 at Northern Illinois
31 vs. Ohio State
31 vs. Liberty
Auburn Active Ankle Challenge (Auburn, Ala.)
5 vs. Troy
5 at Auburn
6 vs. Mercer
17 vs. Marquette
Butler Classic (Indianapolis, Ind.)
20 at Butler
21 vs. Toledo
21 vs. UT-Martin
27 vs. Wright State
28 vs. Oakland
4 at Valparaiso
5 at UIC
11 at Milwaukee
15 at DePaul
18 vs. Youngstown State
19 vs. Cleveland State
25 at Oakland
26 at Wright State
1 vs. UIC
2 vs. Valparaiso
9 vs. Milwaukee
15 at Cleveland State
16 at Youngstown State
22-24 Horizon League Championship
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics and Green Bay Volleyball, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix @GBPhoenixVB and @RyanHartwig
Like Green Bay Phoenix Athletics and Green Bay Phoenix Volleyball on Facebook.