ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – University of New Mexico volleyball eighth-year head coach Jeff Nelson has announced the 2013-14 schedule, a slate featuring seven matches against 2013 NCAA tournament teams and five matches against programs that were in the AVCA Top-20 in 2013.
The Lobos will open their season at home with a tournament that will include Seattle University, UTEP and Texas. Coach Nelson is very excited to host Texas. Texas was National Champions in 2012 and reached the Final Four in 2013. Texas also features local standout Sara Hattis from Cleveland High School, who played club volleyball under Nelson.
“This schedule gives us an opportunity to match up with some of the best programs in the country,” said Nelson. “I am excited to have Texas in our opening weekend event here at Johnson Center. UT is a great program and it gives us the opportunity to highlight a great match early in the season for our fans.”
The following weekend, the Lobos will travel to Hawaii for a tournament that will feature the University of Hawaii, St. Johns and Oregon who was the 2012 NCAA runner up.
In the Lobos third weekend, Sept 12 and 13, they will play host to Montana State, Bethune Cookman and UC Irvine for a round-robin tournament event at the Johnson Center. “Weekend three features a match with UC Irvine in the Johnson Center and is another solid program coached by legendary Paula Weishoff, a Olympian and silver medalist,” said Nelson.
The Lobos will travel on the road Sept. 19 and 20 for the Southern Methodist tournament, their final tournament before conference play. The tournament will feature matches against SMU, College of Charleston and Houston Baptist.
One thing Nelson wanted to do for the 2014 season is boost the program’s RPI and have a better chance at going to the big dance. “Our 2014 schedule also gives us the ability to build a solid RPI as there are many matches vs. top-50 and top-100 RPI programs. Tournaments at Hawaii and SMU will feature strong programs and great opportunities for our Lobos.”
This season the Mountain West coaches agree to switch the conference schedule after champion Colorado State received the only invitation to the NCAA tournament in 2013. Last season, the teams played two matches against every league opponent but this season the Lobos will play 18 matches, meaning one match against Fresno State and a match against Air Force.
In the middle of conference play, UNM will play host to rival New Mexico State on Oct. 20. “We are fortunate to have our match with NMSU at home this season as it is always an exciting rivalry match.”
Times have not been set for many matches yet because UNM is trying to avoid conflict with other events on the UNM campus.