The perennial men's volleyball Final Four contenders Penn State will travel to play IPFW at the Gates Center in 2013.
IPFW coach Arnie Ball said Monday that the Mastodons and Nittany Lions will renew their non-conference rivalry after a one-year hiatus with IPFW playing host to Penn State in the upcoming season.
"Ever since I've been here we played [Penn State] home-and-home and that didn't happen last year," Ball said. "I'm really happy to have them back."
Penn State last season reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals and was ranked No. 7 in the final national coaches poll. In addition, the Nittany Lions have reached the four-team NCAA Tournament for 14 consecutive seasons and are one of two non-West Coast teams to ever win a men's volleyball NCAA championship.
The 2012 season was the first time since 1983 that IPFW and Penn State did not schedule a non-conference match against each other.
Penn State and IPFW's decision not to play last season resulted from changes to the Nittany Lions' conference schedule. The Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association increased its league schedule from 10 to 14 matches -- a move decreasing the amount of non-conference matches EIVA teams could schedule.
These conference changes, Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said, also resulted in IPFW and Penn State changing their non-conference series format for the upcoming seasons.
The two teams in recent years had played each other twice during the regular season -- once in Fort Wayne and once in University Park, Pa. The schools will now meet once each season with IPFW having the home match in 2013 and Penn State having the home match in 2014, Pavlik said.
Pavlik also said he was glad to find a way to get the Mastodons back on their schedule.
IPFW for 2013 returns five starters from last season's team that finished tied for fourth place in the MIVA. The Mastodons last season received votes in the national coaches poll for part of the regular season and twice upset a top 15 nationally ranked teams.
"I think Arnie's team should be even better than last year," Pavlik said. "The player will be older and wiser and any time you walk into the Gates Center you better be ready for what the Mastodons throw out you. If you are not ready for it, they will beat you."
The match versus IPFW will be part of Penn State's two-match Midwest road trip March 8-9. Penn State will open the road trip against Ball State on March 8 before playing IPFW the following night.
The Mastodons are 13-41 all-time against the Nittany Lions with their last victory coming in 2006 at the Gates Center.
Along with its non-conference match against Penn State, Ball also said Monday that IPFW in 2013 will travel to the West Coast to compete in the Long Beach State Active Ankle Tournament.
This will be the second consecutive year the Mastodons will participate in the mid-season non-conference tournament. IPFW last season lost to Long Beach State and Cal Baptist in both its Active Ankle Tournament matches.
Ball said the majority of his regular season schedule is set for the 2013 season and hopes to have the full schedule released in the upcoming months.