Boiling Springs, N.C. - The Gardner-Webb athletics department has released its 2012 volleyball schedule, as announced today by volleyball head coach Leo Sayles, who enters is second year at the helm of the Runnin' Bulldogs' program.
The 2012 season features four tournaments, including the return of the Runnin' Bulldog Classic, as well as matches against Southeastern Conference member Alabama and top-110 RPI teams in Ball State (36), Samford (61) and Illinois State (107). The Runnin' Bulldogs will also face off with regional rival foes in Davidson, Elon, North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T, Charlotte, Western Carolina, East Tennessee State and USC Upstate on top of a very challenging Big Conference slate.
"The 2012 schedule will be a balance of top volleyball programs such as Ball State and Samford with solid competition from comparable schools. We'll have extremely tough competition against five programs ranked around the top-150 in Division I volleyball," stated Coach Sayles. "We will have the opportunity to challenge our regional competition (Charlotte, WCU, Wofford, USC Upstate, Davidson, Elon, and ETSU), while also squaring off against Alabama from the SEC. We will have a good opportunity for some quality wins, but will be pushed and tested on all levels. Our home tournament should challenge us and help us elevate our play at home in preparation for the pressures of the Big South Championship Tournament, which we will host in November."
Gardner-Webb opens up the year in Muncie, Indiana, as the Runnin' Bulldogs will take part in the Active Ankle Challenge hosted by Ball State on August 24-25. There, Coach Sayles squad will take on host Ball State at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 24th, before facing off with both Illinois State at 1:30 p.m. and VCU at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 25th.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will remain on the road for their next four contests, as GWU will take on the Davidson Wildcats in Davidson, N.C. on Tuesday, August 28th, at 7 p.m. and then travel to Elon, N.C. to compete in the Phoenix Classic on August 31-September 1. At the Phoenix Classic, Gardner-Webb will take on Elon on Friday night, August 31st, at 7 p.m. and will then once again play two matches on Saturday, September 1st, meeting up with Alabama at 10 a.m. and North Carolina Central at 4:30 p.m.
The 2012 home opener will come on Wednesday, September 5th, as the Runnin' Bulldogs will host annual regional foe Wofford at 7 p.m. in Paul Porter Arena, the first of five straight home bouts over a seven-day span.
After a one-year hiatus, Gardner-Webb will once again host the Runnin' Bulldog Classic on September 7-8, as the Runnin' Bulldogs welcome Delaware State (Friday, Sept. 7 at 1 p.m.), UM-Kansas City (Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.) and Charlotte (Saturday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m.) to time for the two-day round robin event.
The five-game home stand will wrap up with a non-conference bout against North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, September 11, at 7 p.m.
GWU will then travel to Birmingham, Ala. to play in the Samford Bulldog Invitational the following weekend, September 14-15, where the Runnin' Bulldogs are scheduled to do battle with Tennessee Tech (Friday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m.), Alcorn State (Friday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m.) and the 2011 Southern Conference Champions in Samford (Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.).
A road match at Western Carolina at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 18th, is followed by a four-game home stand for the Runnin' Bulldogs which includes three Big South Conference match ups.
GWU will open up 2012 conference play at home against UNC Asheville on Friday, September 21, at 7 p.m., before jumping back out of conference play to tangle with USC Upstate on Tuesday, September 25, at 7 p.m. in Paul Porter Arena.
Then the Runnin' Bulldogs will host the 2011 Big South Conference Champions Liberty on Friday, September 28, at 7 p.m. and will then turn around to take on the Radford Highlanders the following afternoon at 2 p.m. in their first conference weekend slate.
The following weekend, October 5-6, GWU will travel to Clinton, S.C. to take on the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Friday at 7 p.m. and will remain in the Palmetto State to face off with the Winthrop Lady Eagles on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C.
After a road match at UNC Asheville on Friday, October 12, at 7 p.m., Gardner-Webb returns home the following week to host Coastal Carolina (Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.) and Charleston Southern (Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.) in Paul Porter Arena.
Gardner-Webb will then hit the road for a three-match stretch at Campbell (Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.), at High Point (Saturday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m.) and at East Tennessee State (Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.) before returning home to host Winthrop (Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.) and Presbyterian (Saturday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.) for their final home regular season contests.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will then wrap up their 2012 regular season slate at Radford, November 9, at 7 p.m. and Radford, Va. and then at Liberty in Lynchburg, Va. on November 10 at 12 p.m. noon.
Gardner-Webb and Boiling Springs, N.C. will host the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship on November 15-18 in Paul Porter Arena. The winner of the conference tournament receives the Big South's automatic qualifying bid to the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
The 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship is scheduled to begin November 29th.