Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Volleyball 2016 Schedule Set
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 06/08/2016
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MOSCOW, Idaho—Volleyball head coach Debbie Buchanan announced the 28-match schedule for the 2016 season on Wednesday. Idaho will play in four tournaments before the start of Big Sky play on Sept. 22.

The schedule features five opponents who finished with a top 125 RPI in 2015, including two NCAA Tournament teams in Washington (8 RPI) and Northern Arizona (33 RPI).

“I feel like we have a good overall mix of teams on this schedule,” Buchanan said. “I think the best part about our schedule this year is we have a lot of Saturday night’s at home. You always want to have the team back home and have that time to recover. I think that will help us feel more rested as the season goes on.”

The Vandals will open the season in Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the University of New Mexico Tournament. Idaho will begin with Fairfield and Abilene Christian on Aug. 26. The Vandals will face the Lobos on Aug. 27.

Idaho will play in three regional tournaments to close out the non-conference schedule. Idaho will be in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 2-3, to take on Washington, Seattle U and Villanova. The team opens at Washington, who finished 31-3 last season before falling to eventual national champion Nebraska in the NCAA Regional final. The matches against Seattle U and Villanova will be at Seattle U.

Idaho returns to the Palouse for the Washington State Cougar Challenge, Sept. 9-10. The Vandals open with a pair of east coast opponents in George Washington and Maryland Eastern Shore. Both matches will mark the first time Idaho has played either school. The Vandals and Cougars will wrap up the tournament on the 10th.

The Silver and Gold open at home on Sept. 15, hosting the two-day Idaho Volleyball Classic. The Vandals open the tournament with Wyoming. The Cowgirls finished 23-7 last season with the 42nd RPI in the nation. The remaining two matches, both on Sept. 16, are rematches from last season. The Vandals will take on Tennessee Tech, before closing with Oregon State.

“We count Washington State as almost a home tournament for us,” Buchanan noted. “Between Seattle, Washington State and our tournament we are home four of our first five weeks. That gives us some consistency. We are not missing as much class and we have time to rest and recover.”

Opening weekend in the Big Sky is set for Sept. 22. The Vandals will be on the road at Montana State and will take on Montana (Sept. 24). Matches at Weber State (Oct. 13), Sacramento State (Oct. 20), Portland State (Oct. 22), Eastern Washington (Oct. 28), Northern Colorado (Nov. 3) and North Dakota (Nov.5) close the road slate.

Idaho’s first home conference match will be against UND on Sept. 29. The Vandals will battle Northern Colorado on Oct. 1 as part of Homecoming weekend. Southern Utah (Oct. 6), Northern Arizona (Oct. 8), Eastern Washington (Oct. 15), Idaho State (Oct. 27), Montana (Nov. 11) and Montana State (Nov. 12) wraps up the remaining home dates.

“Even though we have some difficult opponents, we have a good amount of experience returning to this team,” Buchanan added. “For them I do not think there is going to be too much of that shock factor. The difference in skill level from last year to this year, we should be better.”

The 2016 Big Sky Tournament is set for Nov. 17-20, hosted by the regular-season champion. Idaho earned the No. 2 seed last season, claiming the Big Sky North Division title. The Vandals opened with a 3-2 win over No. 7 North Dakota in Flagstaff, Ariz. Idaho fell, 3-1, in the semifinal match against No. 3 Idaho State.

Call the Idaho Ticket Office (208) 885-6466 for ticket information.

For more information on Idaho Athletics, visit GoVandals.com.  Fans can also follow Idaho volleyball on Twitter and Instagram, @IdahoVolleyball.