By Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON, Texas -- Rice head volleyball coach Genny Volpe announced the 2015 schedule on Friday, a 30-match slate that includes 10 matchups against 20-plus win squads and six matches against Top-100 RPI members from the 2014 campaign.
"I'm happy to announce, what I consider to be, a great schedule for our program for the fall of 2015," Volpe said. "There are plenty of opportunities for significant wins and for us to play a balanced schedule as well. We begin with a challenging tournament at the University of Texas, and I want to see how we respond early. Our home tournament should be exciting for our team and for the fans. There are quality teams that each provides different challenges."
"Once we get into C-USA we should have a solid idea of our strengths and weaknesses, and should be primed to compete for a C-USA championship. Our league will have some great players coming back, and a lot of them are from the teams that finished in the top four of conference. The league in general should be stronger and that is exciting."
Rice will play 12 matches at Tudor Fieldhouse, which includes the Rice Adidas Invitational I. The Owls' will open the season on the road at a challenging University of Texas Tournament, where they will square off on Aug. 28 against a Longhorns squad that went 27-3 in 2014 and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The following day the Owls will take on the LSU Tigers, who went 20-9 in 2014 and played into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, followed by UC-Irvine later on that afternoon.
The Owls will then return to Houston for their home opener at Tudor Fieldhouse against Lamar on Sept. 1, before traveling to partake in the Yale University Tournament, Sept. 4-5. Aside from Yale, who also was a 2014 NCAA Tournament team, the Owls will play UC-Santa Barbara and Rhode Island.
Rice hosts Louisiana Lafayette, Sam Houston St. and Colorado from Sept. 11-12 at their home tournament. Colorado had an RPI of 24 in 2014, going 20-14 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Owls then close out their non-conference portion of their schedule at the Baylor University Tournament (Sept. 18-19). In addition to the Bears, Rice will also have matches against Stephen F. Austin and UNC-Greensboro.
Conference USA play will begin on Sept. 22 in a home match against UTSA, whom the Owls defeated to advance to the C-USA Tournament title game in 2014. Rice will then host both FIU (Sept. 25) and Florida Atlantic (Sept. 27), before playing six of their following eight matches on the road.
The Owls will travel within the league to North Texas (Oct. 2), Charlotte (Oct. 4), UTSA (Oct. 16), UTEP (Oct. 18), Middle Tennessee (Oct. 23), Louisiana Tech (Oct. 25), Marshall (Oct. 8) and UAB (Nov. 14).
Rice will get a chance for redemption against C-USA Tournament champion WKU on Halloween. The Lady Toppers defeated the Owls in a grueling five-set classic in last year's title game to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Day is on Nov. 12 against the UTEP, the final regular season match for the Owls before the C-USA Tournament (Nov. 19-22).
2015 Schedule (All times CT)
(University of Texas Tournament)
Aug. 28 -- at Texas -- 5 p.m.
Aug. 29 -- vs. LSU -- 10 a.m.
Aug. 29 -- vs. UC Irvine -- 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 -- Lamar -- 6 p.m.
(Yale University Tournament)
Sept. 4 -- vs. UC-Santa Barbara -- 4 p.m.
Sept. 5 -- vs. Rhode Island -- 10 a.m.
Sept. 5 -- at Yale -- 6 p.m.
(Rice Adidas Invitational I)
Sept. 11 -- Louisiana-Lafayette -- 6 p.m.
Sept. 12 -- Sam Houston St. -- 10:30 a.m.
Sept. 12 -- Colorado -- 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 -- at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi -- 6 p.m.
(Baylor University Tournament)
Sept. 18 -- vs. UNC-Greensboro -- 4 p.m.
Sept. 19 -- vs. Stephen F. Austin -- 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 -- at Baylor -- 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 -- UTSA* -- 6 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- FIU* -- 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 -- Florida Atlantic* -- 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 -- at North Texas -- 6 p.m.
Oct. 4 -- at Charlotte -- 12 p.m.
Oct. 11 -- Middle Tennessee* -- 6 p.m.
Oct. 16 -- at UTSA -- 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 -- at UTEP -- 2 p.m.
Oct. 21 -- North Texas* -- 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 -- at Middle Tennessee -- 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 -- at Louisiana Tech -- 1 p.m.
Oct. 29 -- Southern Miss* -- 6 p.m.
Oct. 31 -- WKU* -- 2 p.m.
Nov. 8 -- at Marshall -- 12 p.m.
Nov. 12 -- UTEP* -- 6 p.m.
Nov. 14 -- at UAB -- 1 p.m.
Nov. 19-22 -- C-USA Championship