HARRISONBURG, Va., May 7, 2012 – After posting 20-win seasons and advancing to the semifinals of the CAA Championship in consecutive years, the James Madison volleyball team is looking to build on its success with a challenging schedule in 2012.
“I am truly excited about the caliber of teams we have scheduled for the 2012 season,” head volleyball coach Lauren Steinbrecher said. “We have Minnesota, a team that finished 12th in the country, coming to Sinclair Gymnasium opening weekend, along with two talented top-100 teams. [Senior setter] Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) will get to play in front of a home crowd at Long Beach State and both of our Florida girls will get to compete at South Florida in front of family and friends.”
The upcoming schedule includes four teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA tournament and nine opponents that concluded the season in the top 100 of the final Ratings Percent Index (RPI). Minnesota had the most successful 2011 season, finishing the year ranked 15th in the AVCA Coaches Poll and advancing to the final 16 of the NCAA tournament. Joining the Golden Gophers on Madison’s schedule and in the 2011 NCAA tournament is Long Beach State, Delaware and Liberty.
The 2012 campaign starts with four straight weekends of tournament play, including opening the season at home with the JMU/Days Inn Invitational. The tournament features an incredibly competitive field with three top 100 teams from last year’s final RPI. Joining JMU and Minnesota in the field will be Seton Hall and Appalachian State.
After opening the season at home, the Dukes are then on the road for three straight tournaments, traveling to Long Beach, Calif., Baltimore, Md., and Tampa, Fla. Another challenging field awaits the team at Long Beach State as the Dukes square off against LBSU, Wisconsin and Cal State Northridge. Both LBSU and Wisconsin were ranked in the top 57 of the final RPI.
JMU moves on to the UMBC Memorial Tournament to take on UMBC, Robert Morris and Howard before traveling to Tampa, Fla., for the USF Volleyball Invitational. JMU and USF will be joined by Florida International and Bethune-Cookman.
Other non-conference action includes a trip to Liberty on Sept. 25 while Radford (Sept. 11) and Virginia (Oct. 16) will make the trip to Harrisonburg.
“Radford and Liberty have been exciting mid-week matches for us in the past two seasons and I am excited to add a mid-week match at home against Virginia this year,” Steinbrecher said. “It will be exciting season for our program as we work hard to continue to compete at a higher level.”
CAA play starts Sept. 21 at home against VCU. JMU will play home conference matches against VCU (Sept. 21), William & Mary (Sept. 22), George Mason (Sept. 29), Towson (Oct. 12), Delaware (Oct. 13), Northeastern (Nov. 9) and Hofstra (Nov. 10). Madison will make the trip to (Hofstra (Oct. 5), Northeastern (Oct. 7), William & Mary (Oct. 19), VCU (Oct. 20), Georgia State (Oct. 26), UNCW (Oct. 28) and George Mason (Nov. 2).
The Dukes return five starters and their libero from a team that went 20-11 overall in 2011. Leading the way in 2012 will be First Team All-CAA selection Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) and three-time All-CAA honoree Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant). Also back for JMU are middle blockers Kelly Maguire (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) and Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs), setters Wiechmann and Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) and libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant).
# # #