CHICAGO, Ill. – The Illinois Tech women's volleyball team has released its 2018 schedule. This year's schedule features 29 total matches, 11 matches in the Keating Sports Center, and 12 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) contests.
With the Scarlet Hawks competing as full NCAA Division III members and in the NACC for the first time in 2018, first-year Head Coach Mark Johnston is excited about how the new-look schedule enhances the program.
"We have a great schedule this year, including our season-opening trip to Portland for the Oregon Trail Classic," said Johnston. "We are also very excited to be in the NACC, which instantly makes our schedule tougher. I love the challenge that each match will present to our team."
The Oregon Trail Classic will feature four contests in two days for the Scarlet Hawks beginning with matches against Willamette University and Lewis and Clark College on Friday, August 31. The next day, the Scarlet Hawks will take on Linfield College and George Fox University.
After the trip to the Northwest, the Scarlet Hawks will play four more times before opening up both the home and NACC schedules. Tech will travel to Kalamazoo College for a weeknight match on September 4 before another weekend tournament: the North Park Quad. The Scarlet Hawks will oppose Anderson University on September 7, as well as both Knox College and host North Park University on September 8, at the Northside school.
On Wednesday, September 12, the Scarlet Hawks open up NACC play at the Keating Sports Center at 7:00 p.m. against Aurora University. The Spartans will also be an early test for Tech, as AU finished as the NACC's runner-up in 2017.
Tech will then have nine days off before a home match on Friday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. as a part of Illinois Tech's Homecoming weekend festivities. After a road match at NACC foe Marian University on September 22, the Scarlet Hawks will host three straight conference matches against Rockford University (September 28), Edgewood College (September 29), and Lakeland University (October 2). Edgewood and Lakeland were both NACC Tournament qualifiers a season ago.
Following the three-match homestand is a similar three-match conference road trip, as Tech will head north to play at three Wisconsin Schools. An overnight weekend trip featuring matches at Concordia University Wisconsin (October 5) and Milwaukee School of Engineering (October 6) will be followed by a matchup at Wisconsin Lutheran (October 12). Concordia-Wisconsin was last season's NACC Regular Season and Tournament champion.
The back half of October will be home-heavy, as Tech plays six of its last nine matches at 31st and Wabash. An October 13 tri-match with conference foe Dominican University and Kalamazoo College will be followed by the team's annual "Dig Pink" match on October 16 against the NACC's Concordia University Chicago. The October 16 match will also serve as Tech's Senior Day.
Tech will also play October home matches against St. Mary of the Woods College (October 20), Augustana University (October 26), and Simpson College (October 26). Away from home, Tech closes out the month with matches at conference foes Alverno College (October 19) and Benedictine Univeristy (Ocotber 24), as well as at non-conference opponent Grinnell College (October 27).
If the Scarlet Hawks finish with one of the six-best conference records in the 12-team league, Tech will qualify for the NACC Tournament. The tournament's quarterfinal round is slated for Tuesday, October 30, which precedes the Semifinals (Thursday, November 1) and the Tournament Championship (Saturday, November 3). All games in the tournament will be played at the highest seed. The NACC Tournament champion, along with any selected at-large bids from the conference, will qualify for the NCAA Division III Tournament.
"There will be pretty high expectations this year, as we lost just one graduating senior," explained Johnston. "We will have almost our entire team back, as well as some very strong incoming freshmen. We had a great spring season before summer break and are looking to pick right up where we left off."
The Scarlet Hawks are coming off of a 17-win season and a United States Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament appearance for the second year in a row. All home matches this year are expected to have live audio, video, and statistics. All live audio will be powered by Illinois Media School.