A senior-laden Seton Hall Volleyball team will play seven more games inside Walsh Gym than the Pirates played in 2013 as head coach Allison Yaeger officially released The Hall’s slate this week.
Twins Shelbey and Stacey Manthorpe return for the Pirates after combining for 562 kills last fall. While life without all-time digs leader Alyssa Warren begins, the Pirates possess strong experience at outside positions as rising sophomore Tessa Fournier and incoming freshman Sarah Kenneweg try to ease the libero transition.
The Hall plays one more tournament than last season, with two of the four coming inside Walsh Gym. The Pirates open the campaign in the Sunshine State to take on Miami, Florida Gulf Coast, and Florida A&M in the Hurricane Invitational. The Hurricanes reached the NCAA Tournament last season before getting bumped in the first round by Oregon, and will certainly bring a tough test for the blue and white to open the season.
While last year’s team did not play a home match until October 8, the Pirates return home for the second weekend of the season to host the Seton Hall Invitational. The Hall proceeds to play four games in two days, with contests against Cornell and Siena on September 5 to open play at Walsh Gym. Day two of the tournament kicks off with a bang as the Pirates host rival Rutgers before the night cap concludes against UNLV. Last season, SHU fought off the Scarlet Knights on the road in a five-set marathon. The contest with the Runnin’ Rebels will be the first between the two schools.
Seton Hall hits the road for the following weekend for the Mountaineer Invitational in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Pirates open play against Montana, which won its first postseason match since 1996 with a first round win in the Big Sky Conference tournament last season, before battling host West Virginia on September 12. The Mountaineers will be a young team, with just one lone senior. Tournament play concludes for the blue and white on September 13 versus Saint Francis.
The Pirates will go by the same rotation as they did in the first two weeks of the season, as Yaeger’s squad will travel back to South Orange for a conference play tune-up. The Pirates host the Seton Hall Classic, with contests against Fordham, Dartmouth, and Middle Tennessee State on tap for September 19 and 20. While the first two opponents for SHU went below .500 last season, Middle Tennessee State went 17-13 in the program’s inaugural season.
The Pirates play both nine at home and on the road in Big East play with two non-conference match-ups interspersed into league play. The Big East returns almost 80% of its starters from a year ago, so while The Hall has experience, that’s not going to be the sole reason for wins in the league. Providence has returned after a stay in the America East for four years, and the Pirates will see the Friars in their conference opener on September 24 inside Walsh Gym. The Hall visits Villanova on September 27 to take on a Wildcats squad that returns 13 players from a year ago. St. John’s seeks revenge against the Pirates inside Walsh Gym on Oct.1. The Red Storm went 16-16 last year and fell in their finale to The Hall, 3-1. After a road trip at Butler and Xavier, which both reached the Big East Tournament last season before bowing out in the semifinals, the Pirates play host to Creighton and Georgetown. The Bluejays reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates had two encounters that went in opposite directions last season with the Hoyas. After falling in straight sets in the nation’s capital, SHU fought back at Walsh Gym to win 3-2 last year. The two battle in South Orange again on October 11.
The longest road swing of the season features trips to DePaul and reigning Big East champion Marquette before a contest at Stony Brook on October 21. The Golden Eagles finished at 26-6 last season. Marquette returns only one senior from a roster that had five in 2013. After the longest road trip of the season, The Hall begins the first of two three-game home stands of 2014. The second half of Big East play will begin and the non-conference finale against LIU Brooklyn wraps up the stay in South Orange before the Pirates hit the road again for a trip to St. John’s. Whereas the Pirates concluded the season with four straight home games last year, they will host Senior Night on November 15 versus DePaul before taking on Georgetown and Creighton with a challenging road swing to wrap the regular season.
For more on the Pirates’ 2014 squad, check back to thesetonian.com for a complete season preview in just a few weeks.
John Fanta can be reached email@example.com or on Twitter @John_Fanta. For complete coverage of Seton Hall athletics, follow @setoniansports.