GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's volleyball team will play 25 regular season matches, including seven contests against other members of the Independent Volleyball Association (IVA), with the release of TU's inaugural 2020 schedule.
TU head coach Eddie Pennington is beginning his first season at the helm of the Pioneer program. This year's team includes three transfers and eight freshmen.
The Pioneers open their first season on Jan. 8 against in-state foe King, starting a string of four-straight home matches. Tusculum will face IVA opponent Urbana and Mount Olive in a tri-match (Jan. 11) before wrapping up the span versus fellow IVA team Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 14.
King University was the No. 2 seed in the Conference Carolinas tournament and finished as the runner-up to No. 1 seed Barton, who received votes in the final AVCA coaches' poll. The Tornado finished the season with a record of 20-10 overall and 14-2 in conference play.
Fellow first year team Urbana will be the Pioneers' second match of the season on Jan. 11 as part of a tri-match with Mount Olive.
The Mount Olive Trojans (11-16, 9-7 CC) were the No. 4 seed in the Conference Carolinas tournament, dropping out in the opening round to No. 5 seed Limestone in five sets.
In-state rival Lincoln Memorial has won the past two IVA Tournaments, going 18-7 in 2019.
The North Greenville Crusaders will be the Jan. 17 destination for Tusculum as the program's first road match. The No. 6 seed in the Conference Carolinas tournament went 16-13 and 8-8 in conference play, losing to King in the semifinals
Belmont Abbey will be the next stop for the Pioneers on Jan. 18. The Crusaders, who finished third in Conference Carolinas, were upset by North Greenville in the quarterfinals after going 15-11 overall and 10-6 in conference action.
Bluefield College is set to visit Pioneer Arena on Jan. 25. The NAIA-affiliated Rams advanced to the Mid-South Conference tournament as the No. 7 seed with an overall record of 15-17 and a conference mark of 7-7, lost in the quarterfinals to a higher seed.
The Lindenwood Lions will host the Pioneers on the last day of January as part of Tusculum's short mid-west swing. Lindenwood finished sixth in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament and finished the season with a 9-19 overall record and were eliminated by 15th-ranked Purdue Fort Wayne.
McKendree opens February against the Pioneers. The Bearcats advanced to the MIVA semifinals as the No. 4 seed.
George Mason received votes in the final AVCA coaches' poll and Tusculum will face the Patriots in a tri-match hosted by Charleston (W.Va.) on Feb. 8. As the second seed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), George Mason lost in the semifinals to third-seeded Penn State in five sets. The Patriots completed the season with an overall mark of 17-9 and 10-4 in EIVA action.
Charleston (W.Va.) will be the other opponent in the Feb. 8 tri-match. The Golden Eagles came in last in the EIVA (9-20, 1-13 EIVA).
Tusculum will spend Valentine's Day with the Alderson Broaddus Battlers, who finished the season with an 0-13 record.
Lees-McRae is next for the Pioneers on Feb. 18. The Bobcats went winless in its 16 Conference Carolinas matches and finished the season 2-21 overall.
Fellow first-year program, Indiana Tech will battle the Pioneers on Feb. 21. The Warriors are a member of the NAIA and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC).
On Feb. 22, Tusculum will take part in a tri-match hosted by Urbana. The Pioneers are scheduled to face St. Xavier and host Urbana. St. Xavier finished second in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and posted a 20-10 overall record and 8-4 in league play. St. Xavier won the program's first conference tournament title and advanced to the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Conference Carolinas member Limestone is the host for the Feb. 28 matchup with the Pioneers. The Saints finished fifth in the conference and advanced to the tournament semifinals. Limestone finished with a 14-13 record, including 8-8 in conference action.
Queens is the Feb. 29 opponent for Tusculum in Greeneville. The Royals ended 2019 as the runner-up in the conference tournament and finished with records of 10-19 and 4-2.
Randolph-Macon, entering its second year as a program, are on the schedule as Tusculum travels to Virginia on Mar. 14. The Yellow Jackets finished seventh in the Division III Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) standings after going 11-15 overall and 4-7 in league play.
Tusculum will host Erskine on Mar. 20 in TU's home finale. The Flying Fleet (7-21, 4-12) finished eighth in Conference Carolinas and were eliminated by top-seed Barton in the opening round of the league tournament.
The Pioneers will revisit six home-and-home series: Lincoln Memorial (Feb. 11), Urbana (Feb. 22), King (Mar. 3), Bluefield College (Mar. 10), Limestone (Mar. 19), and finish the regular season at Queens (Mar. 27).
The 2020 season will culminate with the IVA Tournament, which runs from Apr. 17-18, and will be hosted by Queens University of Charlotte.
The National Collegiate Men's Volleyball play-in match, semifinal, and final rounds will take place from May 5-9 at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, hosted by George Mason University. The participating teams will be selected on Apr. 26.