EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE volleyball Head Coach Kendall Paulus announced a competitive 2018 schedule for the Cougars Wednesday.
SIUE, which is coming off a 23-win season and a second straight top 100 finish in the RPI, play in four tournaments before beginning the Ohio Valley Conference season.
"As usual, we expect a very competitive OVC schedule that will push us every weekend," said Paulus. "Each year we say this is going to be the most competitive the OVC has ever been, and this year is not any different. Looking at national data from the past decade shows the league just keeps getting more competitive. This past season was the first time three teams were ranked in the Top 100 RPI. It is great to be part of the reason the league continues to improve, and we always look forward to the challenge OVC opponents bring."
SIUE's schedule opens up Aug. 24-25 at the TCU Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Cougars will take on Green Bay, UAB and host TCU.
On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, the Cougars head east to the IUPUI Tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Cougars face off against Northern Arizona, host IUPUI and Western Michigan.
SIUE's final road tournament is Sept. 7-8 at the UMKC Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. The Cougars are slated to meet Providence, host UMKC and Arkansas State.
The home season begins with the annual Cougar Classic Sept. 14-15. SIUE welcomes Northern Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Oral Roberts to the Vadalabene Center.
"Preseason is a way to prepare for conference and see who we are and where we stand going in," said Paulus. "The goal is always to get better after each match so we are hoping that with the diversity of opponents we will get a true observation of what our strengths and weaknesses are."
SIUE kicks off the OVC season on the road with Eastern Illinois (Sept. 19) and Belmont (Sept. 22). The Cougars also are scheduled for road OVC contests at Murray State (Oct. 5), Austin Peay (Oct. 6), Tennessee Tech (Oct. 12), Jacksonville State (Oct. 13), Southeast Missouri (Nov. 2) and UT Martin (Nov. 3).
Paulus also is excited about the Cougars' home OVC schedule. After going 12-2 last season at the Vadalabene Center, Paulus is looking for her team to continue the trend.
"Showcasing the season schedule is always exciting because it means we get to play soon, but it's also an opportunity to talk about how important our fans are," she said. "Our event staff puts in a lot of effort to give the fans a fun experience in the Vadalabene Center and we want more people to take advantage of it. It is motivating for our team to know that the Edwardsville and SIUE community supports them. Our student-athletes take a lot of pride in helping create a positive experience, and we'd love for more people to see how hard this team works."
The home OVC opener is against UT Martin (Sept. 28). The rest of the home schedule includes Southeast Missouri (Sept. 29), Morehead State (Oct. 19), Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 20), Eastern Illinois (Oct. 24), Tennessee State (Oct. 27), Austin Peay (Nov. 9) and Murray State (Nov. 10).
"We hope you follow the results, watch online, but most importantly we hope to see you in the stands," said Paulus. "Every year, more and more people come to our matches and it makes the atmosphere that much better and for those of you who have come, we are so grateful."
The OVC Championships, an eight-team tournament, is scheduled for Nov. 15-19 at the site of the No. 1 seed.