Four away tournaments highlight Flames' fall schedule
August 18, 2015 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's volleyball team will compete in four highly competitive tournaments this fall in preparation for its spring season.
In a span of four weeks, the Flames will travel to two tournaments hosted by schools ranked among the top NCAA Division II programs in the country, a preseason ranking tournament featuring 32 of the nation's top club programs, and a fourth event put on by an NCAA Division III program.
Like last year, when Liberty hosted a "Spike at Midnight" match against Rutgers in the Vines Center, the Flames will again open the spring semester with a "Blackout" game against an even more challenging EIVA Division I opponent, rival Virginia Tech, tentatively set for Jan. 29 at midnight in the Vines Center.
"We're trying to up the level of our competition," said Flames Head Coach Bryan Rigg, who has also put in a bid to host the EIVA South Championships in late March in the LaHaye Multipurpose Center. "This will be the toughest fall schedule we've ever had, and the spring will be, too. Our team looks better than ever, as well, and I think we're up to the challenge this year."
Liberty will open its season by sending both its A (varsity) and B (developmental) teams to Alderson Broaddus (W.Va.) on Oct. 24 for a five-team tournament. The Flames will then carry both squads to a similar-sized tournament hosted by Northern Greenville (S.C.) on Nov. 6-7.
As the 24th-ranked team in last year's final EIVA Division I poll, Liberty received an invitation to compete in the Nov. 14-15 Hardwood Classic hosted for the past 25 years by Michigan State. That tournament, featuring 24 Division I and 24 Division II club teams mostly from the Midwest and East Coast, will help determine the preseason rankings for the spring. Last spring, the Flames competed in an equally prestigious midseason ranking tournament, the Hoosier-Illini Classic hosted by Indiana and Illinois.
On Nov. 21, the Flames will travel to a tournament hosted by NCAA Division III Lancaster (Pa.) Bible College, one they finished runner-up in last season. This season's Liberty squad features sophomore transfer Alex Lower, a 6-foot, 3-inch starting setter last season at Cairn (Pa.) University, a team Liberty defeated in last fall's Lancaster (Pa.) Bible Invitational.
Liberty, which returns the nucleus from last year's team that was seeded 16th and finished tied for 24th at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) championships in Kansas City, will hold tryouts for this season's A and B squads on Aug. 26.