ELON, N.C. – Entering her 15th season at the helm of the Elon University volleyball program, head coach Mary Tendler released her team’s 2017 schedule Wednesday afternoon, June 28. The slate features 14 home matches to be played inside Alumni Gym in its final year hosting the program before it transitions to Schar Center in 2018.
“I’m excited about the challenges we will face this fall,” Tendler said. “Our returning players, led by two senior captains, worked hard and made huge strides during the offseason and they know what it will take to reach our goals and be successful. We added a large group of talented newcomers that will be eager to make an impact as we start preseason practices in August and the CAA will be very competitive, as it always is. Having our first four conference matches at home in Alumni Gym will help us get off to a good start as we look to close out Alumni Gym’s historic run with a great 2017 season.”
The 14-match home schedule is set to start on Tuesday, Aug. 29, when Elon hosts North Carolina A&T. After starting the season with seven of its first eight matches away from Alumni Gym, the Phoenix Classic from Sept. 8-9 will start a run of which the Phoenix will play nine of its next 10 matches at home. In all, Elon will play inside the friendly confines of Alumni Gym 10 times before the start of October.
Elon’s 31-match schedule features four tournaments from Aug. 25 to Sept. 16 before it opens its fourth season in Colonial Athletic Association play. During conference play, the Phoenix will welcome all eight of its CAA foes to Alumni Gym and will travel to all eight to complete the 16-match conference schedule with the top six teams from the regular season moving on to the CAA Tournament, which is set to be contested this year at James Madison after the Dukes claimed the CAA title in 2016.
For the second consecutive season, Elon open the campaign with a short trip down I-85 for the Charlotte Invitational. Opening day on Friday, Aug. 25, will feature two matches against Southern Utah and Belmont before taking on tournament-host Charlotte the following day to close out opening weekend.
Following the home opener against the Aggies, Elon will head to Lynchburg, Va., for its only out-of-state matches of nonconference action when it takes part in the Liberty Invitational from Sept. 1-2 against former Southern Conference rival Furman, Maryland and Liberty. After the three-match tournament, Elon will play its last road match of the opening swing Sept. 5 at Gardner-Webb.
In the 2017 edition of the Phoenix Classic, Elon will welcome Charleston Southern, North Carolina Central and Norfolk State to Alumni Gym. Elon will look to defend its Phoenix Classic title after going a perfect 4-0 in the 2016 event. The following week, the Phoenix co-hosts Tussle in the Triad and will welcome Navy on Sept. 15 and UNCG on Sept. 16 to Alumni Gym before heading to High Point later in the day Sept. 16 to close nonconference tournament action against the Panthers.
CAA competition will commence Sept. 22 with Elon playing each of its first four matches against Towson, Delaware, James Madison and William & Mary at home to close the month of September. The four-match home swing to open conference play is the longest in Elon’s Division I history. On two occasions in 2002 and 2003, the Phoenix opened conference play with three home matches but went on the road both years for its fourth conference match.
With the calendar flipping to October, Elon will finish its nonconference slate with a midweek road match at North Carolina Central on Oct. 3 before jumping back into CAA action for its final 12 matches of the regular season. The run will start Oct. 6 when Elon heads to the northeast region for weekend matches against Hofstra and Northeastern before coming home to battle College of Charleston and UNCW Oct. 13 and 15, respectively.
Back on the road for four consecutive outings, the Phoenix will travel to Towson, Delaware, William & Mary and James Madison to close October. The four-match swing marks the longest stretch of true road matches for the Phoenix on the year.
To open November, Elon will contest its final two home matches against Hofstra on Nov. 3 before hosting Senior Day on Nov. 5 against Northeastern. Last year on Senior Day, the Phoenix also hosted the Huskies and earned a gritty 3-2 victory to end the regular season.
Elon’s final two matches of the regular season will be played at College of Charleston on Nov. 10 and UNCW on Nov. 12. Should Elon qualify for the CAA Tournament after the regular season, the Phoenix will head to Harrisonburg, Va., for the conference tournament from Nov. 17-19.
In 2017, Elon returns nine student-athletes from its 2016 season that saw the Phoenix win 18 matches, the most since taking 19 victories in 2011 after winning the Southern Conference North Division title one year before in 2010 with 21 wins. Among those returning, junior Kam Terry led the team in kills with 378 while Maddie Jaudon had a team-high 489 digs, averaging out to 4.25 per set. After earning Third Team All-CAA honors after the season in 2016, senior Sydney Busa returns in 2017 and pairs with fellow senior Michelle Klein to captain this year’s team.