MORAGA, Calif. -- One season removed from a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Saint Mary's volleyball team isn't planning to hide from good competition in 2013.
Gaels head coach Rob Browning announced Monday a schedule that is loaded with challenges for a Saint Mary's squad looking for another trip to the postseason.
"This schedule is challenging and exciting," Browning said. "We are looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the country, and especially excited about the West Coast Conference competition. We have never shied away from playing great teams, whether it's home or away."
Early season tournaments at Colorado and Nebraska will offer early season measuring sticks for the Gaels, and visits from Miami and Air Force on Sept. 6 and 7 bring a pair of tough opponents to McKeon Pavilion. The Hurricanes competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
The final non-conference match of the season comes on Sept. 20 with a trip to perennial power Stanford.
"Traveling to Nebraska and Colorado will be fun. Nebraska has one of the best volleyball environments in the country, and Colorado is a Pac-12 school and will also be tough," Browning said. "Hosting Miami and Air Force is a great opportunity for us, and we get to play Stanford again -- something we always look forward to."
The WCC schedule will provide plenty of tests yet again, with conference play beginning at home on Sept. 19 with a 7 p.m. game against Portland. The next day, the Gaels travel to Stanford before returning to McKeon on Sept. 21 to take on Gonzaga.
Pacific joins the WCC this season, and the Tigers make their first trip to McKeon as a member of the conference on Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. The Gaels make their trip to Stockton on Nov. 2.
Matches against 2012 WCC co-champions BYU and San Diego will come back to back this season for Saint Mary's. The Gaels travel to Provo, Utah to face the Cougars on Sept. 26, then head to San Diego for a 1 p.m. match against the Toreros on Sept. 28.
San Diego visits Moraga on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m., and BYU follows on Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.
The final homestand of the season takes place in mid-November, beginning with a 7 p.m. match against Santa Clara on Nov. 14. The home finale takes place Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. against San Francisco.
Saint Mary's finishes the season with a trip to the Pacific Northwest. The Gaels will face Gonzaga on Nov. 21, then wrap up the regular season on Nov. 23 in Portland with a 1 p.m. game.
"The competition in the WCC will be as fierce as ever," Browning said. "The best teams are returning most of their best players and we have added a very good program in Pacific. It's going to be a battle to win the conference and we will be ready."