Volleyball announces 2012 schedule
GREELEY – Hosting the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time is one of many highlights on Lyndsey Benson-Oates' 2012 volleyball team schedule.
In addition to the Big Sky Tournament, the 2012 slate includes four teams (Ball State, Colorado State, Oklahoma, Tulsa) that participated in the 2011 NCAA Championship and four other teams (North Dakota State, North Dakota, TCU, Creighton) that finished the 2011 season ranked among the top 100 in the RPI.
The Bears, the defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champions, earned the right to host the 2012 Championship by winning the 2011 regular season and the team knows the entire schedule before is a warm-up for those two days (Nov. 23-24) in Butler-Hancock. The team is hoping to advance to its fourth-straight championship match of the Big Sky after winning the titles in both 2009 and 2011.
"We are obviously excited about the Big Sky Championships in Greeley," said Benson-Oates. "It will be nice to sleep in our own beds and keep a routine schedule for the most important weekend of the season."
The team -- which returns nine letterwinners from last year's 22-9 squad and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years -- also hosts back-to-back tournaments the first two weekends of September before jumping into Big Sky Conference play.
Air Force, North Dakota State and Oklahoma are the participants of the Hampton Inn & Suites Classic on Aug. 30-Sept. 1, while Ball State, Creighton and Tulsa come to town for the Northern Colorado Classic the following weekend.
"With two preseason tournaments at home we have really set ourselves up for a great start," said Benson-Oates. "It is so important for preparation for conference play and seeding for the NCAA Tournament that we play a tough preseason schedule. If we ever want to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid or getting a better seed we must win key matches in non-conference play. Having several key matches in Butler Hancock will give us every opportunity to do that."
The Bears remain home for the third weekend in Sept., hosting Montana and Montana State in the first weekend of conference play in the newly expanded Big Sky, which now has 11 teams after officially welcoming North Dakota and Southern Utah on July 1.
In addition to the 10 Big Sky foes, the Bears also host in-state rival Colorado State on Nov. 13 and will travel to Denver on Oct. 23.
Northern Colorado opens the 2012 regular season in Nashville, Tenn., at the Belmont Tournament on Aug. 24-25 where they will face TCU, Belmont and Alabama A&M.
Season tickets for the 2012 season are currently available at the Northern Colorado ticket office. Reserved seats are just $75, which includes the 18 home matches during the regular season. Youth tickets are on sale for $25, while Northern Colorado faculty/staff and senior tickets are available for $40. Fans can also purchase a Family Pack, which entails two adult tickets and two youth tickets, for $100. Fans who purchase season tickets have the opportunity to get the Big Sky Tournament for half-price.
To purchase season tickets today, call (970) 351-4849 or visit online at www.unco.edu/tickets.