MANCHESTER, N.H. – Fourth-year Head Coach Braden Zamore of the Saint Anselm College volleyball program released the team's schedule for the 2018 season on Monday, as the Hawks look to build off last season's historic postseason run this coming fall.
One year removed from a season that included the program's first victory in the Northeast-10 Conference Volleyball Championship and its first appearance in the NCAA Division II East Region Championship, Saint Anselm's 2018 schedule consists of 27 matches, 12 of which will be played at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. In total, the Hawks will play eight teams that won at least 20 matches last season and five squads that qualified for the 2017 NCAA Division II East Region Championship.
"This season's schedule aims to prepare us for success in conference play," Zamore said. "By competing in three tournaments early in the season, our student-athletes will be challenged early and we hope to learn a lot and grow from playing 11 matches in 15 days to start the season against quality opposition."
Saint Anselm opens its season on Saturday, Aug. 25 when it hosts Stonehill to begin a four-team tournament that also includes Shepherd and Southern New Hampshire. After Stoutenburgh Gymnasium hosts three matches on the first day, the Hawks will take on Shepherd and Southern New Hampshire the following day across town at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
On Friday and Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, Saint Anselm heads to East Stroudsburg University for a tournament for the third time in four seasons. After taking on Queens (N.Y.) and reigning Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) champion Caldwell on the final day of August, the Hawks face the host Warriors and CACC South regular-season champion Jefferson to open their 11-match month of September.
After a trip to Bridgeport on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Hawks host a four-team tournament on Sept. 7-8, beginning with a match against Edinboro, who defeated Saint Anselm in five sets last season. On day two of the tournament, Saint Anselm's will play Pace in a non-conference match as well as Mercy.
Zamore's team opens NE10 play with a home date with Queen City Cup rival Southern New Hampshire, who the Hawks have defeated twice in each of the last two seasons, on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. Following a home non-conference match against Merrimack the next day, Saint Anselm hits the road for four-straight NE10 matches, starting with a Sept. 18 match at Bentley.
Last season, Saint Anselm swept three meetings with the Falcons, including a five-set thriller in Waltham, Mass. in the quarterfinals of the NE10 Conference Volleyball Championship for the program's first win in the postseason tournament. The Hawks had never defeated Bentley in 30 meetings prior to last season. Saint Anselm also travels to American International on Saturday, Sept. 22 to face the Yellow Jackets, who have finished as the East Region runner-up in each of the last two seasons.
"A great attribute of volleyball in the NE10 is its parity," added Zamore. "Virtually any team can beat any team in this conference, so finding a way to gain even a slight advantage through preparation in early matches will make a tremendous impact on our results. We know we will have many closely-contested matches in our conference, which hopefully will give us great experience if we reach our goal of making another strong postseason run."
After the four-match road trip, Saint Anselm returns home for three-straight matches in the span of a week against Stonehill, Le Moyne and Saint Rose. On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, the Hawks head to Long Island to face Adelphi and LIU Post, which was an NCAA Division II East Region Championship participant last season.
Home matchups with Franklin Pierce, Pace and Assumption round out the month of October before the Hawks face challenging away matches against Southern Connecticut State (Nov. 2) and New Haven (Nov. 3) to close out the regular season. The Owls advanced to the semifinals of both the NE10 Conference Volleyball Championship and the NCAA East Regional last season, while the Chargers won the NE10 regular-season and tournament titles, as well as the NCAA Division II East Region Championship, on their way to an appearance in the national quarterfinals.
The 2018 NE10 Conference Volleyball Championship is slated to begin with the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 6.