Fairfield, CT – SHU head coach Rob Machan, the 2010 NEC Coach of the Year, has announced the 2011 schedule for the Pioneer women's volleyball team, which won its first conference championship last season. Sacred Heart's 2011 slate features matches against regional and national powers as the Pioneers continue to challenge themselves each season with a tough non-conference schedule. SHU will again host the Sacred Heart Invitational September 2-3 and won its own tournament a season ago.
The Pioneers will begin the 2011 campaign in the final weekend of August as they head to the Big Orange Invitational for contests with Syracuse, Youngstown State, and Siena. The season continues one week later as the SHU Invitational will welcome Brown, Hartford, and Rutgers to the William H. Pitt Center. Sacred Heart will then travel to Storrs, CT to face-off with Nutmeg State rival and BIG EAST member Connecticut on September 6.
The Pioneers continue tournament play September 9-10 at the Maryland Invitational where they will meet Delaware, Yale, and the host Terrapins. SHU plays its final regular season tournament of the year the following weekend in East Lansing, Michigan at the Spartan Invitational, which includes Virginia Commonwealth, Ball State, and host Michigan State.
The Northeast Conference double round robin schedule begins September 24-25 with back-to-back home games versus Fairleigh Dickinson and Bryant. The Pioneers will remain at home for a non-league match September 29 as the high profile Marquette Golden Eagles visit the Pitt Center. SHU will hit the road for the first four matches of October as the Pioneers travel to Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Army, and St. Francis (NY). The schedule then flips as Sacred Heart plays four straight NEC tilts at home, including a rematch of the 2010 NEC title game against Robert Morris on October 15.
Sacred Heart concludes the regular season with six of eight matches away from the Pitt Center and rounds out non-conference action November 8 at Columbia. The final weekend of the regular season sees the Pioneers make the long trip to western Pennsylvania for meetings with the Colonials and Saint Francis (PA).
SHU went a perfect 16-0 at home in 2010, including two wins in the Northeast Conference tournament to secure the program's first league crown. The 2011 NEC tournament will again be hosted by the regular season champion and will take place November 19-20. Sacred Heart dominated the NEC last season, tallying 11 shutouts and dropping just 13 sets in 18 matches. The Pioneers return three all-conference players and lose just one starter for 2011 as they look to win back-to-back NEC titles.