WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's volleyball team and sixth-year head coach Jeff Lennox have unveiled a 27-match schedule for the 2017 season, including 12 matches in front of the home crowd in Wilson Gymnasium.
"I'm really excited about our schedule for 2017," said Lennox. "We have a great opportunity to open up with a scrimmage against Division I UNC Wilmington. They will play at a very high level and it will be exciting to see the team learn and grow throughout the day. That scrimmage and the one against Cape Fear Community College will really help us see where we need to improve before opening weekend."
BC, which posted a 22-9 record last season and a 14-2 mark in Conference Carolinas play, will have a target on its back after winning the 2016 Conference Carolinas Tournament Champions for the first time in school history last season.
The North Division Regular Season Champions begin the 2017 regular season on the road competing in the Embry-Riddle University Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. Barton will be among a group of five teams that includes three members of the Sunshine State Conference. The four opponents matched up against BC combined for 74 total wins a season ago, including 23 victories from NCAA South Regional qualifier Lynn University.
Barton returns to North Carolina for a match against Chowan University, before heading to Aiken, S.C. to compete in the USC Aiken Invitational. The Bulldogs competed in the USC Aiken Convocation Center as part of the NCAA Southeast Regional last season and will face four regional opponents over the two-day tournament. Among BC's four matches will be two separate contests against Peach Belt Conference members Lander University and tournament host USC Aiken, who each joined Barton in last year's regional. USC Aiken was the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight before being eliminated.
"Our out of conference slate will prepare us well for our in conference matches," said Lennox of the Lady Bulldogs' 13 non-conference opponents. "Going to Embry-Riddle and USC Aiken for weekend tournaments will teach us a lot. We will get a ton of tough reps and have to battle in each of those matches early in the season."
Tuesday, September 12, will mark Barton's first home contest of the season as Francis Marion University comes to Wilson for the first match of a five-match homestand. BC begins Conference Carolinas play on Sept. 15 against Converse College before hosting Limestone College, North Greenville University and Southern Wesleyan University on back-to-back weekends.
A short road trip to take on rival University of Mount Olive occurs on Tuesday, September 26, followed by another road tilt against Belmont Abbey College before the Lady Bulldogs return home for six consecutive home matches beginning with league matches against King (Tenn.) University and Lees-McRae College.
Chowan comes to Wilson as a part of a home-and-home series on October 11, while Belmont Abbey visits Wilson on Friday, October 7. Mount Olive and Shaw University will be a part of a tri-match in Wilson Gymnasium on Saturday, Oct. 21 before Barton hits the road for a rematch of the conference finals with Erskine College on Oct. 27 in Due West, S.C.
After a road match against league foe Emmanuel (Ga.) College, Barton's final regular season home match takes place against non-conference opponent UNC Pembroke on Halloween night. The regular season schedule comes to an end with back-to-back contests on November 3-4 against King and Lees-McRae.
"I am very proud of what we accomplished in 2016 and winning the title in 2017 will be a tough task. The conference, in my opinion, will be the deepest it has been in a while with a lot of teams capable of winning a championship," remarked Lennox. " We worked harder than we ever have in the spring and really kept our edge. We look forward to the strong competition day in and day out in our conference. The team enjoys the process and putting in the work every day and we will put all of our focus there and not on defending our title."
The league championship that will be contested on the week of Nov. 7-11 and will once again be a bracket-style tournament with eight teams qualifying based upon league standings at the end of the regular season. The higher seeds will host the first round with the highest remaining seed hosting the final four remaining programs.
NOTE: The 2017 Barton College women's volleyball schedule is subject to change. Fans are encouraged to check the women's volleyball schedule page on www.BartonBulldogs.com throughout the season to confirm dates, times and locations.