SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara volleyball's 2018 schedule features a September matchup against the defending national champions. The Broncos will face the Nebraska Cornhuskers as part of a 30-game slate, announced by head coach Jon Wallace on Monday.
SCU's tilt against the Big Ten powerhouse — which won its second NCAA title in three years last fall — is set for the second weekend of the season on Sept. 1. The Broncos also take on Wake Forest and Ohio in the Devaney Center as part of the Ameritas Players Challenge.
"Nebraska is going to be fantastic; there's nothing quite like going up against a defending national champion on its home floor," Wallace said. "Being around Nebraska and its great program for a couple of days will be awesome."
Santa Clara hosts three matches prior to West Coast Conference play. The Broncos take on Sacramento State in their fourth match of the season on Aug. 28. Two weekends later, they host Boise State and UC Davis at the Santa Clara Invitational (Sept. 6-8). It marks the third straight year for Santa Clara facing the Broncos and Aggies in a pre-conference tournament.
"We're excited to host a tournament here against really good competition in Boise State and UC Davis."
The Broncos begin the season against Idaho, New Mexico and Grand Canyon Aug. 24-25 as part of the Idaho Volleyball Classic. They round out nonconference play in a Butler-hosted tournament against the Bulldogs, Kent State and 2017 NCAA Tournament participant Cleveland State Sept. 14-15.
"Opening up at Idaho will be a good test," Wallace said. "We played the Vandals last year and they'll be a good team again this year. It's beautiful up there that time of year so we'll look forward to having an excursion up there and seeing some wildlife.
"Butler and Cleveland State typically win a good deal of matches and those contests will help us build a solid NCAA Tournament résumé."
Santa Clara begins WCC play with the tail end of a five-match road trip at San Francisco on Sept. 20 and at Pacific on Sept. 25. The conference home opener is against Loyola Marymount Sept. 27 followed by a Sept. 29 meeting with Pepperdine in Leavey Center.
The Broncos host defending WCC co-champions San Diego (Oct. 11) and BYU (Oct. 13) to start a four-match homestand that features contests against Pacific and Saint Mary's the following weekend. The Toreros defeated LSU in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament while the Cougars swept matches against American and Oregon. Santa Clara's home finale is against the Dons on Nov. 17 and the Broncos cap the regular season at Saint Mary's on Nov. 20.
"The WCC will be tough again," Wallace said. "There will be two and possibly three teams in the preseason rankings to start off the year. This conference is always a grind week-in and week-out."
The Broncos will look to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in seven years. They have qualified for NCAAs 16 times in program history, including 13 under Wallace.
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