June 14, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Head Coach Brian Gimmillaro has announced the 2012 schedule for Long Beach State women's volleyball, and the 49ers will face seven teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season, including five that finished the season ranked.
"This year, our schedule will be both demanding and exciting," said Gimmillaro. "Opening with so many good teams will give us an opportunity to prepare for our conference schedule, which is going to be very different this season."
Long Beach State will host one non-conference tournament, featuring James Madison, Wisconsin, San Diego, and Cal State Northridge. The 49ers will not play the Matadors in that tournament, but will face the other three. The tournament marks the first time that the 49ers have played James Madison since 1999, and it is the first time that the 49ers will have played the Badgers since 1990. On the other hand, Long Beach State's meeting with San Diego is a rematch with the 49ers first-round NCAA opponent for the last two seasons.
The team will also make three trips in the non-conference schedule, starting the season with the Kentucky Classic in Lexington, Kent., where the 49ers will play three southeastern foes, including one from the ACC in North Carolina and one from the SEC in host Kentucky. Long Beach State kicks off the 2012 campaign with a neutral site match against Lipscomb on Friday, August 24, and then has an important day on August 25, facing North Carolina and Kentucky in two matches. The day starts as the 49ers play the Tar Heels, and follows with a matchup against Kentucky in the final game of the tournament, as LBSU faces the Sweet 16 team from a year ago.
After returning home for the Baden Classic, Long Beach State then takes a trip to Seattle to face another Top 25 team in Washington on Sept. 7, and faces Seattle University at SU the next day. Long Beach State then closes its non-conference schedule with a trip to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where the 49ers will play Arkansas State and two tournament participants from a year ago, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa.
Long Beach State then begins another run in the Big West, as the 49ers look to defend their 2011 championship, the 12th in the history of the program. The challenge will be greater in 2012, however, as the Big West welcomes back Hawaii for the 2012 season into the conference. The Rainbow Wahine reached the sweet 16 a year ago and finished the season ranked fifth in the nation, providing an excellent test in the conference season.
"Adding a great program like Hawaii to an already difficult conference schedule is a great challenge for our program," said Gimmillaro. "Resuming a great rivalry with the Rainbow Wahine is very exciting, and is just one more thing for fans to look forward to in what has always been a tremendous conference."
The Big West season starts on Sept. 21 in the Walter Pyramid for the 49ers as Long Beach State hosts Cal Poly, followed by UC Santa Barbara the following night. Other key home dates for the 49ers include Oct. 26 and 27, when the team hosts Hawaii and Cal State Northridge, as well as Nov. 17, when LBSU finishes its home schedule with a match against UC Irvine. The 49ers close out the regular season on the road at Cal Poly on Saturday, Nov. 24, and will be attempting to reach a 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament.
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