SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo volleyball team and Director of Volleyball Sam Cibrone announce the 2017 slate that features a home tournament for the first time in five seasons.
"Our strength of schedule should be solid this season as we improved our conference with Palm Beach Atlantic and Embry-Riddle," Cibrone said. "Also, we have the South Region Crossover, and we are playing two tough tournaments to start the season so I would say, overall, this schedule should be about as difficult as last years was."
The Lions will open 2017 with a four-game tournament at Nova Southeastern in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The season will begin on Sept. 1 with matches against Lenoir-Rhyne and Tusculum. On the second day of the NSU Shark Invitational, the Lions will take on Post and Minnesota-Duluth, the No. 12 finisher in the Final 2016 American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
The second weekend of the season, Sept. 9 and 10, will feature the 2017 Saint Leo Volleyball Tournament. The Lions will invite Truman State, Sioux Falls, West Texas A&M, Montevallo, and Nova Southeastern to their den. Saint Leo opens with Montevallo on Friday afternoon, and follow up with West Texas A&M on Friday evening. On Saturday, Lions start with a battle with Truman State and close out the tournament with a night match against Sioux Falls. The Lions will not play Nova on the weekend as they are a Sunshine State Conference foe.
The last time the Lions hosted a tournament, they went 4-0 in the 2012 campaign.
"We have not hosted a tournament since 2012, so we are extremely excited," Cibrone stated. "I wanted our players and fans to get comfortable earlier this season than in the past. Also, I was lucky enough to find some great teams like West Texas A&M, Truman State, Sioux Falls and Montevallo to play here in our home. I feel that this tournament will prepare us for a tough opening week in SSC as we have Tampa and Florida Southern to start conference play. Last year, we played a very tough event at the Premier in Colorado, where we only went 1-3, but that level of play helped us beat Tampa at their place last year. We are hoping the challenges we face in our tournament will allow for similar success."
Following the two opening tournaments, the Lions open SSC play with a road match at Tampa on Sept. 15 in a rematch of the top-two finishers in the SSC last season. The two squads finished with a 12-4 record, with the Lions taking the regular season title as they held a 2-0 record over the Spartans. Tampa finished No. 24 in the final AVCA Poll from 2016.
On Sept. 16, the Lions will return home to host Florida Southern.
Saint Leo will continue its home stand with matches against Rollins, Sept. 22, and Palm Beach Atlantic, Sept. 23. PBA finished 2017 as the No. 11 team in the nation after reaching the semifinals at the 2016 NCAA National Championship tournament.
September closes out with a weekend down south, as the Lions take on Barry on Friday, Sept. 29, and Nova Southeastern on Sept. 30.
The Lions continue their road trip as the head to Eckerd on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
The squad returns home to host Lynn on Friday, Oct. 6 before heading to the South Region Crossover tournament on Oct. 13 and 14.
Following the South Region Crossover, the Lions hit the road for five of the next six matches. They will head to Florida Southern on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and to Embry-Riddle on Friday, Oct. 20, and Florida Tech on Oct. 21.
The Lions will then return home for one midweek match as they tackle Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 24. They return to the road as they head south to Palm Beach Atlantic on Friday, Oct. 27, and to Rollins on Oct. 28.
November looks to be a friendly month for the Green and Gold as they host five of their final six matches of the season.
Saint Leo starts with a home match versus Nova Southeastern on Friday, Nov. 3, and they follow it up by taking on Barry on Nov. 4.
On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Eckerd enter Marion Bowman Activities Center to take on the Lions, before Saint Leo head to Boca Raton to take on Lynn on Friday, Oct. 10.
The final weekend of the regular season will see the Lions host Florida Tech on Friday, Nov. 17, and Embry-Riddle on Nov. 18.
"I believe scheduling is one of the most important parts of coaching as we need to provide opportunities to challenge our kids while balancing a successful record and preparing them for the post season," Cibrone specified of the challenges of created schedule.
In the 2016 season, the Saint Leo volleyball team claimed their first out-right Sunshine State Conference title following the program's first season-sweep of conference rival's Tampa. Both Saint Leo and Tampa finished with a 12-4 SSC record, but because of the Lions' sweep of the Spartans, Saint Leo was awarded the title. The Lions then went on to earn the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Regional and their fourth-straight NCAA appearance.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo volleyball team be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.