INDIANAPOLIS – The 2014 Butler Bulldog volleyball schedule will have a unique look to it due to ongoing renovations being made to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Four early season tournaments highlight the first two months of the season, while the team ends the year with five-straight home matches.
The Bulldogs will face six teams that earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament. Four of those teams will take the court against BU during the non-conference season in a tournament format, while the remaining two schools will be during BIG EAST competition.
The Bulldogs will jump into the upcoming season in a highly competitive Bluegrass Battle Tournament which features Virginia Tech and Wichita State along with host school Kentucky. Both Wichita State and Kentucky made the NCAA Tournament one year ago with the Hokies just missing the postseason with an impressive 22-12 overall record. Action gets underway with a 4 p.m. match vs. Virginia Tech in the season opener on Friday, Aug. 29. Aug. 30 will be a true test as the 'Dawgs play Kentucky at 10 a.m. followed by Wichita State later that day at 6 p.m.
The following weekend will feature Butler playing in the Chippewa Invitational hosted by Central Michigan. Green Bay and Marshall will fill out the tournament field that is set for Sept. 5-6. An afternoon match vs. Green Bay on Friday at 4 p.m. will signal the start of competition as the Bulldogs once again end the event with two games on day two, facing both Marshall and Central Michigan.
The third tournament of the non-conference season will mark the longest road trip of the year as the Bulldogs head out to Boulder for the Omni Invitational hosted by Colorado. Two more NCAA Tournament teams will be involved in this field as Idaho State and host school Colorado were NCAA Tournament teams in 2013. Butler will face Robert Morris on Friday, Sept. 12 before taking on the two tournament teams the following day.
The fourth and final non-conference tournament of the 2014 season will be hosted by the Indiana Hoosiers as Butler, Western Illinois and Buffalo all meet up in Bloomington on Sept. 19-20. The Hoosier Classic features BU playing the Leathernecks on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. before clashing with the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (Sept. 20). Saturday night's main event will pit the Bulldogs vs. the Hoosiers as the two high profile teams meet for a 7 p.m. contest to close the action.
With four highly competitive early season tournaments behind them, the Bulldogs will shift their focus to the Creighton Bluejays for the BIG EAST season opener at D.J. Sokol Arena. An NCAA Tournament team that split with Butler during the 2013 season, Creighton will host Butler on Friday Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. The final weekend of September will feature the Bulldogs flying to the nation's capital for a 2 p.m. contest vs. Georgetown on Sunday, Sept. 28.
The BIG EAST schedule is a string of home and road matches this season due to the construction happening at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The 2014 season home opener will actually be played at Short Ridge High School on Friday, Oct. 3 when the Bulldogs host the Seton Hall Pirates at 6 p.m. The following day, Butler will stay at Short Ridge to host the Villanova Wildcats for an event that will also start at 6 p.m.
Only two matches will be played at Short Ridge as Butler will once again move their home gym to accommodate their next opponent in DePaul. The Blue Demons will face Butler at the Health & Recreation Complex (HRC) located on campus directly beside Hinkle Fieldhouse. The DePaul vs. Butler match will begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Seven of Butler's next eight games after the DePaul match will be played on the road. The journey begins with stops at St. John's and Providence before hosting Marquette at the HRC on Wednesday, Oct. 15. The game played at the HRC will once again have an early start time with first serve set for 1 p.m.
The end of the BIG EAST schedule showcases five-straight road matches, followed by five-straight real home games which will be played at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Contests at Xavier, Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette and DePaul make up the road test as BU heads into the final month of the season with home matches vs. Georgetown, Creighton, Xavier, Providence and St. John's.
The 2014 BIG EAST Tournament will feature the top four teams in the league standings. The battle to crown a BIG EAST champion will begin on Friday, Nov. 28 and end on Saturday, Nov. 29. The winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament which will hold opening round action on Dec. 5-6. The regionals will be held from Dec. 12-13 with the final four games to be played Dec. 18-20.
Creighton and Marquette finished the 2013 season on top of the BIG EAST standings with Xavier taking over third place and Butler claiming fourth. While all four teams proved to be equally talented, only Marquette and Creighton made the NCAA Tournament field while Xavier and Butler narrowly missed the cut with each team recording over 20 wins.
The 24-8 overall record set by the Bulldogs in 2013 marked the highest win total under the guidance of head coach Sharon Clark. The 'Dawgs were 11-5 in the conference action, 14-3 at home and 10-2 during early season tournaments.