Tarleton volleyball announces nonconference pairings to complete 2021 schedule
STEPHENVILLE – The countdown is on for Tarleton volleyball's inaugural Division I season, as head coach Mary Schindler announced the 2021 schedule on Friday.
The Texans are set to play 19 games this season, 16 of which are Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games. Eight of the team's contests will take place inside Wisdom Gym, while the team will travel to 10 away games. Tarleton opens its season with a pair of matches on Jan. 22 at Stephen F. Austin.
"We are happy to play," Schindler said. "We would obviously love a preseason, but everybody is in the same boat and on an even playing field. It will be fun for our kids to have an opportunity now in this transition (to Division I) to see somebody on the other side of the net."
Tarleton makes its NCAA Division I debut on Jan. 22 with games against Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin, respectively, in Nacogdoches.
"I think this will be a good starting point for us," Schindler said. "Ideally we would have wanted the chance to play several more Southland Conference schools but based on their schedules and ours, you would have had to try and squeeze in those dates."
Tarleton will make their WAC debut Jan. 25-26 versus Grand Canyon in Phoenix as previously announced. During WAC play, the Texans will alternate home and road matches every week. Teams will play back-to-back opponents versus the same opponent at the same site to limit exposure and travel.
"We have played a lot of back-to-back matches in my time here to prevent missed class time," Schindler said of the WAC conference layout. "I think our girls will be able to recover and a lot of them will be used to it. We want to prepare for back-to-back games in our training but when you miss less class it will be beneficial."
The Texans will return to Stephenville for their first homestand of the season against Cal Baptist on Feb. 1-2. All home games inside Wisdom Gym this season will start at 6 p.m.
The homestand versus Cal Baptist starts a stretch of seven games over a three-and-half week span for the Texans. They will travel to Seattle U for the longest road trip of the season on Feb. 8-9. Fans will also have the chance to see the Texans at home Feb. 15-16 against Utah Valley. To round out the February portion of the schedule, the Texans will head to Prairie View A&M Feb. 24 for their last nonconference match of the season.
The March portion of the schedule begins on the road with Chicago State on March 1-2 followed by a home matchup against fellow WAC newcomer Dixie State on March 8-9. For the last road contest of the season, the Texans take on New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M. on March 15-16. To round out the season, Tarleton takes on UT Rio Grande Valley on March 22-23 at Wisdom Gym. The Texans can't compete in the postseason tournament this season as it begins its transition to Division I.
"There is obviously an advantage depending on who you play and what kind of crowds they are going to have." Schindler said of the conference schedule layout. "I think the reason this year it isn't supper relevant for me is because a lot of these schools aren't even going to be allowed to have fans. So when you talk about a home-away matchup, you would love to be able to go on the road and compete and see what another teams atmosphere is like and to experience their home court advantage because you know you're going to get them back.
"Obviously, going to New Mexico State, they are one of the top teams in the conference year after year. Same thing with Grand Canyon, so two of the top teams year after year we get on the road twice, so that will be fun for us. On the flip side, we are going to get to experience and go to Chicago and Seattle and then we are going to get those other schools at home twice which is a huge advantage for us because we have had a great home court advantage over the last eight, nine years especially."
Capacity inside all events in Wisdom Gym is limited to a maximum of 50% this season, per Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order No. GA-28. All fans and staff inside Wisdom Gym must wear a face covering over the nose and mouth at all times, per Abbott's Executive Order No. GA-29.