MACON, Georgia (Mercer Athletics) -Mercer sand volleyball head coach Damian Elder announced the 2013 sand volleyball schedule on Thursday, comprising seven non-conference matches and eight Atlantic Sun Conference tilts before the year's culmination at the A-Sun Tournament.
"Our 2013 schedule will be challenging, in that we will play twice as many matches as our schedule last year, as well as a greater number of teams who currently have sand-only players competing for them," Elder said. "I'm also proud of the coaches in the A-Sun conference for voting to limit missed class time during our conference season by playing two matches a day for our in-conference weekends. I think this schedule marries strong competition with proper academic priority."
After debuting the university's sand program last year, Elder begins year two of the outdoor season on March 9 at The University of Alabama-Birmingham. In Birmingham, the Bears will join UAB and Tulane in a tri-match format that will see the Bears play each opponent that afternoon.
From there, the Bears travel to challenge Georgia State on March 12 before returning home for a rematch with UAB on March 20. Two days later, Mercer heads to Charleston, South Carolina for competition in the College of Charleston Invite. At that event, the Bears will play three times over the course of three days.
Atlantic Sun conference play gets underway with a home doubleheader against North Florida on March 29. On March 31, Florida Gulf Coast travels to Macon for a pair of matches at the Mercer Sand Volleyball Complex.
"I expect us to get better at sand volleyball with indoor volleyball players, win as many matches as possible during the regular season and compete for the conference championship," Elder said. "I will also keep a keen eye on the foundational aspects of running two programs in anticipation of the arrival of Mercer's first sand-only players in the fall of 2013. The expectations for myself, in that regard, are high."
The Bears wrap up the regular season with a four-match road stretch that sees the Orange and Black head south for doubleheaders at Jacksonville (April 5) and Stetson (April 5). On April 20-21, the Bears are back in Jacksonville for the Atlantic Sun Tournament.