Texas A&M will play 11 non-conference matches before opening its 18-match Southeastern Conference schedule on Sept. 29.
“We were able to accomplish an awesome mix in the scheduling, with top-15 teams Michigan, Florida State and Iowa State as well as Loyola Marymount, a super tough team, and balance that with being on the road a lot against teams that are well-coached, veteran teams,” Corbelli said. “For our brand new young group, this pre-conference schedule is going to be rigorous but incredibly beneficial.”
The Aggies return one starter and nine other letterwinners who helped A&M win the SEC Western Division, advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament and finish 25-6 in 2012. Corbelli also welcomes two redshirt freshmen and three true freshmen, who will make their Aggie debut August 30-31 at the North Dakota Tournament in Grand Forks, N.D.
The Aggies open the 2013 campaign against South Dakota State on August 30 and then take on former Big 12 Conference foe and NCAA region finalist Iowa State and tournament host North Dakota on August 31.
“What I really like about this opening tournament is, No. 1, it’s one of the first years in many, many years that we have started our season on the road and it is a great test for the team,” Corbelli said. “I also love the fact that Allie Sawatzky (Manitoba, Canada), our player from farthest away, will be near home so that and many of her family and friends will be able to see her play collegiate ball for the first time. It’s really important to her, which means it is important to our team.
“And third, the variety of teams that we will see. Really big teams, very fast teams. Iowa State has some of the best ball control and defense you’ll see in the country. North Dakota is very fast at the net and very scrappy. They went five sets with No. 5 USC last year at our tournament. Going into that tournament, we hope to get away from the stress and the pressure of wanting to win and instead focus on what can we learn from this tournament so that it helps us in the SEC, because I think those teams are all great models of SEC teams in different ways.”
The Aggies stay on the road for another week but do return to the home state as they participate in the UTSA Tournament in San Antonio, where A&M will face Loyola Marymount, Lamar and the host Roadrunners, Sept. 5-6.
“Not only will it be our first appearance of the season in Texas, but this is the only time we will face other Texas teams during the regular season,” Corbelli said. “There is always extra motivation to beat the in-state teams. And then there is Loyola Marymount, whose players have probably been in the game since they were 12 or younger in an area of the country that is a volleyball hotbed. And with their coach, Tom Black, who was also recently hired as the national team assistant to Karch Kiraly, he does an excellent job obviously with a great group of players, and I expect it to be a very, very challenging match for us.”
The Aggies make their home debut at the Texas A&M Tournament at Reed Arena, Sept. 12-14, during what is expected to be the most electrifying week in Texas A&M athletics with the football team hosting Alabama and the nationally ranked soccer team also squaring off in a pair of home contests that weekend. The volleyball team plays two matches on Thursday, Sept. 12, opening against Siena and then taking on Florida State, a team that reached the Final Four in 2011, in the evening session. On Friday, the Aggies face Michigan, ranked No. 5 in the 2012 final poll after reaching the NCAA semifinals.
“Just awesome volleyball,” Corbelli said when asked to describe the tournament field. “We’ll probably be the youngest team in the whole tournament, and I hope that the team can use what we learn from the previous two tournaments and balance that with a lot of the adrenaline and excitement of having those teams in our gym and play really well.
“The Aggie spirit is going to be flowing all week here throughout this community. I know our staff and players will feel it and hopefully our opponents will feel the strength of the Aggie spirit. We feel really fortunate to get to be here for that kind of weekend.”
A&M concludes the non-conference schedule at Colorado State and Northern Colorado, Sept. 21 and 22, respectively. It marks the Aggies’ final tune-up before opening SEC play against Georgia on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Reed Arena. The match against the Bulldogs is the first of nine conference home matches.
A&M concludes the regular season at home against South Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
“Our goal is to win the SEC,” Corbelli said. “It is not something that is out of reach. It is definitely something that motivates and sets a tone for us daily. And the No. 1 thing we want to achieve as coaches is competitive excellence. We are in charge of making sure we recruit the best we can, we coach and schedule the best we can and train like champions the best we can. That is what we expect.”
The following is the complete 2013 Texas A&M volleyball schedule.
Aug. 30-31 at North Dakota Tournament
Friday, Aug. 30
vs. South Dakota State, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 31
vs. Iowa State, 10 a.m.
at North Dakota, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5-6 at UTSA Tournament
Thurs. Sept. 5
vs. Loyola Marymount, 1:30 p.m.
vs. Lamar, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 6
at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12-14 TEXAS A&M TOURNAMENT
Thurs. Sept. 12
Texas A&M vs. Siena. 10:30 a.m.
Florida State vs. Siena, 3 p.m.
Texas A&M vs. Florida State, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 13
Michigan vs. Siena, 11 a.m.
Texas A&M vs. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 14
Michigan vs. Florida State, 11 a.m.
Sat., Sept. 21 at Colorado State
Sun, Sept. 22 at Northern Colorado
Sun., Sept. 29 GEORGIA*
Fri., Oct 4 at Florida*
Sun., Oct. 6 at South Carolina*
Wed., Oct. 9 LSU*
Fri, Oct. 11 MISSISSIPPI STATE*
Fri., Oct. 18 at Alabama*
Sun., Oct. 20 at Auburn*
Fri., Oct. 25 ARKANSAS*
Sun., Oct. 27 MISSOURI*
Sun., Nov. 3 FLORIDA*
Fri., Nov. 8 at Mississippi State*
Sun., Nov. 10 at Ole Miss*
Wed., Nov. 13 at LSU*
Fri., Nov. 15 TENNESSEE*
Sun., Nov. 17 AUBURN*
Fri., Nov. 22 at Kentucky*
Sun., Nov. 24 at Georgia*
Wed., Nov. 27 SOUTH CAROLINA*
Home matches played at Reed Arena
Times and dates subject to change.
Aggie fans can keep up to date on the A&M volleyball team on Facebook or on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.