COLUMBUS, Ohio – Under new leadership from the sideline, Capital University Volleyball has constructed an incredibly challenging schedule for the 2017 campaign. On Thursday, June 29, the Purple and White announced its collection of opponents, which include multiple regular season and conference tournament champions, NCAA qualifiers and on-the-rise teams.
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The season will begin with an annual tournament that will take on a new and very special meaning. Capital and Otterbein University will co-host its annual invitational, but this year will be renamed the Pam Briggs Classic. The invitational is being renamed in honor of Capital's winningest volleyball coach in program history and a dedicated advocate and contributor to women's athletics over her professional career.
This year, all games in the annual invitational will be played at Otterbein University. The tournament will kick off with the two rivals squaring off on Friday, Sept. 1 at The Rike Center with a 4 p.m. nonconference match. Capital will also play Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.) and North Park University (Ill.) on day two of the tournament.
Capital will play its first home game of the season against Ohio University-Chillicothe on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The home opener will take place in the friendly confines of The Capital Center Performance Arena with first service to come at 7 p.m.
Capital's second tournament will take place at Earlham College (Ind.) where the Crusaders will take on host Earlham to open play on Saturday, Sept. 9. Over the first 10 days of the season, Capital will have played eight games.
Three days after the Earlham College Tournament, Capital will play Denison University (Sept. 13) and then embark on another two-day tournament at The College of Wooster (Sept. 15-16). They will open with host Wooster then play its first NCAA qualifying team in the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford to wrap up day one. Pitt.-Bradford ended the year with an overall record of 25-6, went undefeated in conference play and then went on to sweep through its conference tournament and into the NCAA Division III Tournament. Day two will be spent playing Frostburg State University and Franciscan University, a team Capital beat twice last year.
The latter part of September will provide one of the toughest stretches of the Crusaders' schedule, and just before the beginning of conference play. The Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) / Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Crossover Tournament, which will be held at Baldwin Wallace University, will feature stout competition. Capital opens with defending HCAC regular season champion Hanover College (25-8, 9-0) on Sept. 22. Day two features Cap's second opponent to participate in the NCAA Tournament, defending HCAC Tournament champion Bluffton College (24-8-1). The Beavers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Cap and Otterbein will play, this time with OAC positioning on the line, on Friday, Sept. 29 at The Rike Center. The matchup will mark the first conference game of the season for both teams.
The Crusaders will then engage in a tri-match in Gambier, Ohio where they will meet up with Kenyon College, whose stock has been rising in the North Coast Athletic Conference over the last three seasons, and Mount Vernon Nazarene University, which was a 30-win team and spent time in the NAIA Top-25 poll in 2016.
Coming out of the that tri-match, Capital will get focused on its OAC schedule. The OAC home opener against Wilmington College on Oct. 3 will begin the team's big stretch of conference games. They play three straight home contests over a four-day span, including a Friday night meeting with defending OAC regular season and conference tournament champion, Ohio Northern University. Ohio Northern was one of two OAC teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament last year.
On the backend of the OAC slate is the second conference team to qualify for nationals, Heidelberg University. Heidelberg earned an at-large bid after meeting up with ONU in the conference finals and spending time in the top 25. They will be the first of two home matches to be played to wrap up the regular season. The Crusaders and the Student Princes will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 24 for that showdown. Cap will then wrap up the regular season and celebrate its seniors on Saturday, Oct. 28 against Baldwin Wallace University, which a season ago finished 24-6 but had four of its losses come in conference play.
Of Cap's 28 total matches, seven of those will be played at The Capital Center Performance Arena. The schedule includes eight teams that have won 20 or more games, while one hit the 30-win plateau a season ago. There are also three NCAA Tournament teams, Head coach in her first year at Capital, Amanda Hubbard, seeks to improve upon last year's 5-22 overall record and 1-8 conference mark.