June 16, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Head volleyball coach Scott Swanson announced the 2017 schedule Friday afternoon, as he readies the Gamecocks for year seven of his tenure. The 30-match schedule features two home tournament in the non-conference, as well as battles with eight non-conference opponent who won 15 or more matches in 2016.
"We intentionally scheduled tougher this year, we knew were going to have a talented team," Swanson said. "We’re going to get challenged on the road right away in the second weekend, playing Duke and Northwestern, and UNCW has done really well in their league. It’s what our girls wanted, it’s what our coaches wanted and it’s important that we get challenged in the preseason so that we’re not surprised by that first SEC weekend."
The season begins Aug. 25 with the Gamecock Invitational, where the team welcomes in Mercer, Troy and North Florida for a two-day tournament at the Carolina Volleyball Center. The following weekend will be the Duke Invite, with a deep field of the Blue Devils, Northwestern and UNC-Wilmington.
Capping the home non-conference schedule is the Carolina Classic, Sept. 8-9. The field features a pair of opponents coming off 20-win seasons, with Miami (Ohio) (24-7) and Radford (24-6). The Gamecocks will also host Eastern Kentucky.
In the final tune-up before conference play, Carolina will head to the upstate for the Clemson Challenge Sept. 15-16. The Gamecocks play Georgia Southern on Friday, then take on Texas Tech Saturday morning before a 7 p.m. showdown with their rivals in Jervey Gym.
The Southeastern Conference season begins Sept. 22 with a Friday road match at Mississippi State, then Carolina returns for three home matches in the span of one week. The conference home opener pits the team against LSU on Friday, Sept. 29, with games against Tennessee (Oct. 1) and Georgia (Oct. 6) to follow.
The Gamecocks have a home-and-away series with Mississippi State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Auburn, and Alabama this season. Match times for all conference matches have not yet been announced.
“I think this year, the SEC schedule for us lines up better than it has in my seven seasons. Any given night, especially on the road, you’re going to get into a battle, it doesn’t matter if it’s a last-place team or the first-place team. You always have to bring your A-game. You can’t take anybody lightly in this league, and we’re excited for the challenge every night.”
As a team, South Carolina returns seven Gamecocks who played in 20 or more matches last season, and had an 18-12 overall record. It was the program’s highest win total since 2012. The team also drew record crowds to the Carolina Volleyball Center, and ranked in the top-50 nationally for average attendance. Swanson said the team is excited for another exciting season in front of the Gamecock faithful.
“I think it’s the best home-court advantage in our league,” Swanson said. “Its so well-attended, well packed-out. Our student support is amazing, it’s loud, it’s intimidating and I think our athletes flourish in that environment. We want to continue to build the tradition of being a great home team.”
Stay tuned to GamecocksOnline.com for more on the team’s annual Garnet & Black preseason scrimmage, SEC match times, and season tickets information.
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