(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – On Thursday, head coach Casey Williams announced the full 30-match schedule for the 2018 Montana State University Billings volleyball team.
Starting with two four-match tournaments at the end of August, the Yellowjackets will start their season on the road. Great Northwest Athletic Conference play will begin Sept. 6, at Western Oregon with the ‘Jackets set to host their first match against Alaska Anchorage on Sept. 14.
“We have a very similar schedule to last season,” Williams noted. “The pre-conference tournaments give us the opportunity to get a lot of experience in a short amount of time. With a lot of returners from last season, I am hoping that we will be able to come together as a team faster this year. We have a talented group and we know how challenging conference is so we have to hit the ground running.”
Playing in the Minnesota Moorhead Classic from Friday, Aug. 24, through Saturday Aug. 25, MSU Billings will open the season with a 10 a.m. (CDT) matchup against South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, a team MSUB defeated 3-0 last season. Continuing play on Friday, the ‘Jackets will play the University of Mary at 3:30 p.m. (CDT). On Saturday, the ‘Jackets will play Minot State University, who they lost to 3-0 last season, at 9 a.m. (CDT) before finishing the weekend with Western State Colorado University.
The following weekend MSUB will play regional opponents in San Francisco, Calif. at the Division II West Region Showcase hosted by the Academy of Art. The ‘Jackets will start the tourney with host ART U on Friday, Aug. 31 at 8 a.m. (PST) before a 5:15 p.m. start against San Francisco State. On Saturday Sept. 1, MSUB will start with another 8 a.m. Pacific start against Cal State University, Dominguez Hills. The ‘Jackets fell to the Toros 3-0 last season in Lacey, Wash. In their final contest before GNAC play, MSUB will play the University of Hawaii Hilo at 3 p.m. (PST) on Sept. 1.
After eight road games to start the season, the Yellowjackets will open the conference season on the road with Western Oregon University on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. Pacific Time. The ‘Jackets and Wolves split two matches last season with each team winning on their home court. The Oregon trip will continue with a 2 p.m. matchup with Concordia University (Ore.) in Portland. The Cavaliers swept the season series against the ‘Jackets with a 3-0 win in Portland and a 3-2 win in Billings.
“It will be a quick turnaround to return from San Francisco and get right back on the road for conference,” Williams said of the opening GNAC weekend. “I think we will have a prepared group, last season we had a tough trip to Oregon so I know our team will be excited to put that behind them and have a good showing there.”
Opening Alterowitz Gymnasium for the 2018 season, the Yellowjackets will be home for contests against University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska on Sept. 14 and 15 respectively. The match against Anchorage will be the only Friday home match for the ‘Jackets in 2018. MSUB will play the Seawolves starting at 7 p.m. before hosting Alaska on Saturday at 2 p.m. Williams and the Yellowjackets will play two other Saturday contests at 2 p.m. later in the season.
“I think starting our home schedule on a Friday night will give us a little boost,” Williams said of the unique scheduling against Anchorage. “We will be playing one of the top teams’ in the conference and hopefully we get a large crowd to come watch us open the home schedule.”
The Yellowjackets split the series against each Alaska school in 2017 including beating Anchorage in Alaska for the first time since 2009. MSUB won their first home game of 2017 with a 3-2 win over Alaska before falling 3-1 to Anchorage in Alterowitz Gym.
Following their home openers, MSUB will make their shortest trip of the season to the Fortin Center where they will square off with the Battlin’ Bears on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. The Yellowjackets will later host Rocky Mountain College on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. for MSUB’s annual Pink Night.
Following the Spt. 18 matchup with Rocky, the ‘Jackets will go on a run of four consecutive GNAC road games from Sept. 20 through 29 with all games starting at 7 p.m. Pacific. MSUB will start the trip with Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s before returning to the west coast the following week for Simon Fraser and Western Washington.
As the calendar turns to October, the Yellowjackets will see a significant shift in their amount of travel. MSUB will play nine of their final 13 matches at home after opening the season with just two home matches in their first 17 contests.
Northwest Nazarene will visit Alterowitz Gym on Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. and Central Washington will follow at the same time on Saturday, Oct. 6. MSUB will travel to Alaska the following week for two games before a pivotal five-game home stand from Thursday, Oct. 18 to Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Yellowjackets will start their five-game Alterowiz Gym residency with Saint Martin’s on the Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. Continuing play on Saturday at 2 p.m. the ‘Jackets will host Seattle Pacific before hosting Rocky, Western Washington and Simon Fraser the next week.
Following two road matches at Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene on Nov. 1 and 3, MSUB will return home for their final two matches of the season. The Yellowjackets will host Concordia (Ore.) in their final Thursday contest at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8. On Saturday, Nov. 11, the ‘Jackets will celebrate senior day with a 2 p.m. start against Western Oregon. Miranda McConnell and Taylor Sherman will each be honored as they complete their final season of competition with the Yellowjackets.
In total, the 30-match schedule features 11 home dates with seven neutral contests and 12 road matches. The ‘Jackets will have three 2 p.m. starts on Saturdays at Alterowitz Gym this season on Sept. 15, Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 with all other home sets slated for 7 p.m. starts.