June 4, 2008
AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team will face six teams that reached the 2007 NCAA Tournament in 2008 as the Tigers prepare for their first season under new head coach Wade Benson.
Along with the grueling Southeastern Conference schedule, one that includes five NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, Auburn will also travel to two tournaments along with hosting the War Eagle Invitational.
The Tigers, who finished last season with an 11-20 (3-17 SEC) record, open the season with the War Eagle Invitational, Aug. 29-30, in the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Auburn opens the tournament against in-state rival Samford while also hosting Mercer and New Orleans.
A trip to Jacksonville State on Sept. 2 will be Auburn's first road test of the season, followed by the first road tournament of the season at the Mercer University Bear Brawl, Sept. 5-6 in Macon, Ga. AU will take on Bethune Cookman, Presbyterian and Georgia Southern at the Bear Brawl.
The Tigers then gear up for a Sept. 9 road match at Troy before wrapping up the non-conference portion of the schedule at the Michigan Pepsi Challenge in Ann Arbor, Mich. While there, Auburn will take on Toledo, Oakland and the host Wolverines, a Sweet 16 team in 2007.
With a young team returning for 2008, Benson said the schedule was built to allow the team to work their way up to the competitive SEC schedule.
"The SEC is a very tough conference with some highly-ranked teams already in it, so our preseason is based on trying to pick up some wins here and there, but also get prepared for some tough play," said Benson. "This year, we are extraordinarily young, we have one senior, no scholarship juniors and five new players coming in - so, we are very young and looking to grow as much as possible."
Auburn opens its SEC slate at home on Sept. 19 against Arkansas, followed by Ole Miss on Sept. 21.
The Tigers then hit the road for four-straight matches, beginning at Alabama on Sept. 26, before returning for a four-match homestand, Oct. 10-19, against Georgia, LSU, Florida and South Carolina.
Auburn returns home for Halloween weekend when the Tigers will face Mississippi State (Oct. 31) and Alabama (Nov. 2). AU wraps up the 2008 regular season Nov. 21 and 23 against Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively.
In all, the Tigers will play 13 home matches, 13 road matches and five neutral-location matches in 2008. Auburn is also at home during three home football weekends: Louisiana-Monroe (Aug. 30), LSU (Sept. 20) and Arkansas (Oct. 11).