Aztecs to face five NCAA Tournament teams this fall
Photo: The SDSU volleyball team opens the 2018 campaign by hosting the Aztec Invitational August 24-25. Courtesy goaztecs.com
May 11, 2018 (San Diego) - San Diego State volleyball head coach Deitre Collins-Parker has revealed the team’s schedule for the upcoming 2018 campaign, with the Aztecs slated to play five NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago. In addition, SDSU will compete in four tournaments this fall, including two it will host prior to start of the Mountain West schedule of matches.
SDSU begins the season with the annual Aztec Invitational, as the Scarlet and Black squares off against defending Western Athletic Conference tournament champion and NCAA first-round participant CSU Bakersfield on Friday, Aug. 24, before wrapping up the weekend with a pair of encounters against Seattle University and Portland on Saturday, Aug. 25.
For its second series, SDSU will embark on a short trip to the desert for the Cactus Classic in Tucson, Ariz., with the Aztecs opening play against Pacific on Friday, Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m. MT, followed by an engagement with host Arizona later that evening at 7 p.m. MT. A single match awaits San Diego State for the finale on Sept. 1, when it battles Lipscomb in a matinee, starting at 10 a.m. MT.
The Aztecs will keep their bags packed the following weekend when they travel to the Aloha State for the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. SDSU will face Portland for the second time during the non-conference slate on Thursday, Sept. 6, before locking horns with Idaho on Friday, Sept. 7. After an off day, the Aztecs will battle perennial heavyweight Hawai’i on Sunday, Sept. 9, to wrap up their island excursion. Last year, the Rainbow Wahine made their 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Scarlet and Black will line up against another NCAA qualifier for its next contest when it plays host to Oregon State in the opener of the SDSU/USD Challenge on Friday, Sept. 14, starting at 6 p.m. PT. The Aztecs will then cap off their final tournament of the regular season on Saturday, Sept 15 with a pair of matches against UTEP (9 a.m. PT) and Louisiana-Lafayette (3 p.m. PT).
With 18 conference dates and an unbalanced schedule, San Diego State will face each Mountain West opponent home and away with the exception of single meetings vs. Fresno State and Air Force. Those encounters mark the opening of the Aztecs’ league slate when they play host to the Bulldogs (Sept. 21) before traveling to the Academy two days later for a clash with the Falcons (Sept. 23).
Following its trip to the front range of the Rocky Mountains, SDSU welcomes Colorado State, the MW’s lone representative in the NCAA Tournament last season, to Montezuma Mesa on Thursday, Sept. 27, while Wyoming, the league’s second-place squad a year ago, pays a visit on Saturday, Sept. 29.
As the calendar flips page, the Scarlet and Black will play host to crosstown adversary San Diego on Tuesday, Oct. 2, to close off the non-conference portion of its regular-season schedule. Last season, the Toreros advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to USC.
The Aztecs will have to weather a challenging four-match MW road swing through San José State, Nevada, Colorado State and Wyoming to wrap up the month, before facing four of their six remaining conference opponents at home, including a Senior Night clash with SJSU on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Led by three-time all-conference honoree Deja Harris, SDSU returns seven letterwinners and four starters from last year’s squad that tied for third in the Mountain West with a 10-8 record and a 16-15 mark overall.
The Aztecs have also signed three prep stars to National Letters of Intent for the upcoming campaign, including middle blocker Alexis Ratliff, defensive specialist Kiana Gonsalves and middle blocker Tori O’Sullivan, who will join outside hitter Emily Burns, a JC standout from College of the Canyons, as well Delaney Taylor, a transfer from Oregon State who adds depth at the setter position.