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Retriever Volleyball Announces 2012 Regular Season Schedule
Head Coach Ian Blanchard
BALTIMORE – After a year hiatus, the UMBC volleyball team will once again start the season against its Baltimore rivals, this time at the Battle of the Bay at Coppin State on Aug. 24, head coach Ian Blanchard announced on Tuesday.
The complete schedule, which spans four months, also includes trips to perennial power Michigan as well as East Carolina and matchups with teams from the Big 10, Pac 12 and SEC. In addition, the Retrievers will host the fourth annual Maddie Bingman Tournament at the RAC Arena, as well as six America East contests. For the fifth straight season, each of UMBC’s home matches will be broadcast live on UMBCRetrievers.tv.
“We’ll have our share of challenges this year,” said coach Blanchard. “We’re going to have our hands full with the non-conference schedule but it will prepare us once again for a strong America East Conference.”
At the Battle of the Bay, the Retrievers will take on three in-state rivals – Towson, Morgan State and host Coppin State – in addition to St. John’s over the course of two days. The following Tuesday, UMBC heads a little farther away to take on George Mason for the first time since 2009.
“The Battle of the Bay, along with the George Mason match, will be a fun opportunity to compete against our local rivals,” coach Blanchard said. “We’ll renew some cross-town matchups and give our out-of-state players a chance to experience the unique opportunity that the Baltimore-Washington area presents with all of the local teams.”
The early season road swing continues through the weekend as the Dawgs travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Adidas/Michigan Challenge. While in the Great Lakes State, UMBC will take on Arkansas on Fri., Aug 31 before facing off against the host Wolverines as well as Central Michigan on Saturday.
The Retrievers then return to Baltimore to play at the RAC for the first time all year as they host Robert Morris, Colorado, James Madison and Howard during the two-day Maddie Bingaman Tournament on Sept. 7-8.
“This tournament is all about participation and enjoying the competition of volleyball,” coach Blanchard said. “The Mid-Atlantic will be represented well and we’re very excited to have a packed gym when we host Colorado.”
The home stand is short-lived, however, as the team heads north to take on St. Francis (Pa.) midweek and then reverses direction to compete in the East Carolina Tournament in Greenville, North Carolina to finish the non-conference schedule.
“Our out-of-conference slate is tough, but winnable,” said coach Blanchard. “We must play our top volleyball to get what we want from the trips.”
After nearly a week off, UMBC travels to Upstate New York to open America East play against Binghamton on Sept. 21. The Retrievers went 6-6 in conference play last season and qualified for the conference tournament for a school record fourth consecutive year and fifth time in seven years under Blanchard. UMBC plays each of its six conference rivals twice during the regular season, trading home-and-home visits.
The next weekend, the Retrievers return to Baltimore for their first home match in 20 days as they host New Hampshire on Fri., Sept. 28 and then Providence on Sun., Sept. 30 at the RAC. The two matches start a stretch of five straight weekends of rotating home and away for the Black and Gold.
October sees UMBC go on the road for the opening weekend to play Hartford on Friday followed by a rematch of last year’s conference semifinals against two-time defending America East champion Albany on Sunday. The next weekend the Retrievers host Stony Brook and Binghamton for the Friday-Sunday slate followed by another road trip, this time to Providence and New Hampshire to round out the month.
The Retrievers open the final month of regular season play, November, at home at the RAC to face the Great Danes and Hawks for the return matchups, and then conclude the schedule with a visit to Long Island to play Stony Brook.
The America East Championships are set to be played Nov. 16-18 at the regular season champion’s home gym with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.