BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh head volleyball coach Bob Bertucci has announced the team’s 2012 schedule, which features four matches against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams and September trips to Virginia and Texas for prestigious tournaments. Coming off a 19-win season, the Mountain Hawks will face National Semifinalist Southern California along with NCAA Tournament qualifiers Delaware, Western Kentucky and American, to highlight an impressive slate.
“It’s a challenging schedule,” said Bertucci. “We discussed it as a staff and as a team. The general consensus was to try and upgrade our schedule a little bit.”
The Mountain Hawks open their season at home vs. Rider on Aug. 26. The following weekend, Lehigh will head to the University of Virginia Tournament to face Delaware, Virginia and Western Kentucky. After facing the Blue Hens on Friday, Aug. 31, Lehigh will play the host Cavaliers, along with Western Kentucky on Saturday.
Lehigh returns home on Sept. 11 to welcome Rutgers at 5 p.m. That marks the squad’s final home match until the Patriot League opener on the 21st. In between, the Mountain Hawks will head to Fort Worth, Texas for the TCU Tournament. They’ll face Prairie View on Sept. 14 then Southern California and Texas Christian on the 15th. The Trojans advanced to the National Semifinals a year ago and are again projected near the top of the national rankings. A midweek road match at Princeton (Sept. 18) marks the final nonleague contest before opening Patriot League play against Colgate.
“The nonleague schedule will be tough, but it’s going to prepare us for Patriot League play,” said Bertucci. “I think the league will be improved this year.”
After facing Colgate on Friday, Sept. 21, Lehigh will welcome Bucknell to Leeman-Turner Arena on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks head to Navy and American the following weekend, then host Lafayette on Friday, Oct. 5. Following a midweek tilt at Villanova, the first round of league play concludes with trips to Army and Holy Cross on Oct. 12 and 13, respectively. Lehigh will then play the other seven Patriot League teams a second time, along with an Oct. 23 nonleague matchup vs. Delaware State.
“Last year, we were very young with the majority of the team being sophomores,” said Bertucci. “Now, with the majority of the team being upperclassmen, we felt we could take that next step [scheduling]. The question is if we’re prepared to handle the schedule. If we are and can enjoy around the same level of success from this past year [with a tougher schedule], it’d be a big step.”
The Mountain Hawks begin preseason practice this weekend. Check back to Lehighsports.com for complete coverage as the team prepares for the 2012 season.