By Jocelyn VerVelde, Tennessee Tech Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech volleyball head coach Dave Zelenock has announced the team's 2014 schedule, which is set to provide many storylines as the Golden Eagles play former Ohio Valley Conference rival Western Kentucky and in-state foe Tennessee, in addition to the demanding OVC slate. The season will open with four non-conference tournaments.
"Each week's tournament presents a different type of challenge for us," Zelenock said. "Some of the teams are bigger than us, some are faster than us, some play similar styles and some are completely different. This is a schedule that really prepares us for the OVC. There are a lot of different teams in the Ohio Valley Conference and on a day-to-day basis we need to be ready to adapt. This year's pre-conference schedule will really stress that."
Beginning at the Appalachian State Invitational, Aug. 29-30, Tech will be opening up against none other that the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The Golden Eagles will also face host Appalachian State and Horizon League opponent Cleveland State.
"Getting to play Tennessee as our first match of the season is a great situation," Zelenock stated. "We get to play a quality in-state opponent without going to their turf. Tennessee is coming off a disappointing season for them, but I expect them to be much better this year. Emotions will be running pretty high being the first match for both teams and we have some players from in state and they are pretty excited to go against Tennessee. It should be a fun match."
Tech then heads to the East Carolina Invitational on Sept. 5-6 to face UNC Wilmington, host East Carolina, Morgan State, and Norfolk State. That will be followed by the McNeese State Invitational, Sept. 12-13, opening up with host McNeese State. The Golden Eagles will also take on Alcorn State, Prairie View, and Louisiana-Monroe.
The Golden Eagles will play their final tournament on Sept 19-20 at the Wofford/Gardner-Webb Invitational. First, Tech will play host Wofford, then take on North Carolina A&T, USC Upstate, and close out the tournament versus the second host, Gardner-Webb.
The Golden Eagles wrap up non-conference play with a mid-week match at Western Kentucky, Sept. 23.
"Western Kentucky has been a very good program for years and will be our highest RPI match of the season," Zelenock said. "We scheduled them right before we start OVC play to be a tune up game for us. We want our team going against a very high-level team and having to raise our game as we head into OVC play."
The Golden Eagles will open conference play at home versus Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville, Sept. 26 and 27.
Tech will then alternate home and road matches until they head out on a four-match road stretch. The Golden Eagles will close out the regular season by hosting Jacksonville State and UT Martin, Nov. 11 and 15.
The OVC Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 20-24 on the campus of the regular season champion.
"We have a very young team this fall with more than half the team being underclassmen," stated Zelenock. "Exposing them to different styles early in the year will be great for them not only when we hit OVC but throughout their careers."