WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University head women's volleyball coach Nagy Abdelrazek officially announced his team's 2019 schedule on Monday which includes seven home matches and seven against teams who advanced to the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship.
The Cardinals, who finished last season with a 19-13 record, return 12 players from last year's roster, including all six starters and the libero. The Cards finished third in the Landmark Conference with a 4-2 record after being picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll. The team appeared in the conference semifinals for the eighth time in the league's 12-year history.
"The 2019 volleyball season should be a very excited one," said Abdelrazek. "With 90 percent of our players returning from last season, the chemistry of the team should be in place. Junior Patricia Martinez, who was named first team all-conference, will be looking to lead the team to the conference final while sophomore Caroline Kelly, an all-conference second team selection, will definitely be one of the top liberos in the conference. In addition, the leadership of senior Isabelle Cooper and junior Maria Gonzalez will create a perfect environment for an exciting freshmen class."
Catholic opens the season against 2018 NCAA tournament participant Meredith at the Route 42 Classic hosted by Eastern Mennonite and Bridgewater. The defending USA South champion Avenging Angels went 23-5 a year ago, advancing to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years.
The Cardinals then face Mary Baldwin, Lynchburg and Bridgewater for the second-straight year after posting wins against all three a year ago.
After a match at Gettysburg on Sept. 4, Catholic makes its home debut against Wesley on Sept. 6 as part of the Guetle Invitational. The annual event continues on Sept. 7 when the Cardinals take on Pitt-Greensburg and Keuka before beginning an eight-match road trip on Sept. 11 at Washington College.
The Cards then head to McDaniel for a tri-match with the Green Terror and York (Pa.) on Sept. 14. Three days later, Catholic faces its second NCAA tournament opponent from last year when it travels to Fredericksburg, Virginia to play Mary Washington. The Eagles posted a 21-12 record last season, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship after falling in five sets at No. 25 Christopher Newport in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) title match.
The Cardinals wrap-up their road trip on Sept. 20-21 with four matches at the Knights Invitational hosted by Neumann University where they will face Messiah, Keystone, Christopher Newport and Widener. Keystone lost in the finals of the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) tournament last year while two-time defending CAC champion Christopher Newport posted a 26-6 record and advanced to its 12th-straight NCAA tournament.
The match against the Captains on Sept. 21 is also one of three for the Cards against nationally-ranked opponents. CNU was ranked at No. 22 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Preseason Poll on August 14.
Catholic finally returns home on Sept. 25 to face Shenandoah before heading across town on Sept. 27-28 for the Worthington Classic hosted by Gallaudet. While there, the Cardinals will face two NCAA tournament teams in Bethany and Christopher Newport. Bethany finished 22-10 a year ago and captured its second Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) championship in the last three years.
The Cards return to Gallaudet just four days later on Oct. 2 to take on the Bison who went 17-17 last season.
Catholic opens its 13th season in the Landmark Conference on Oct. 5 with a tri-match at Scranton against the Royals and Juniata. Scranton finished fourth in the league a year ago after the Cardinals rallied from a 2-0 deficit to post a 3-2 victory over the Royals at home in the final match of the regular season.
Juniata, who has won all 12 Landmark Conference titles since 2007, finished 28-4 last year while advancing to the national semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Emory. The Eagles were ranked at No. 3 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Preseason Poll.
Catholic hosts Wooster from the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) on Oct. 8 before welcoming Stevenson to Franny Murrary Court on Oct. 10. The Mustangs have won seven consecutive MAC Commonwealth Conference championships. They finished the season with a 23-12 record after making their eight-straight NCAA tournament appearance.
The Cardinals return to league play on Oct. 16 at Elizabethtown before traveling to Hoboken, N.J., for the New Jersey Challenge hosted by Stevens on Oct. 18-19. After opening against St. John Fisher on Friday, Catholic will face host Stevens and Hamilton from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) on Saturday. Stevens finished 23-10 last season after falling to Nazareth in the Empire 8 championship match.
The Cardinals host conference foe Goucher in their final regular season home match on Oct. 23 for Senior Day before wrapping up the regular season with Landmark Conference contest against Susquehanna and Moravian on Nov. 2 at Juniata.
The semifinals of the 2019 Landmark Conference Women's Volleyball Championship will be played on Nov. 6 with the championship match on Nov. 9. Catholic is looking for its first appearance in the league title match since 2012.