Mizzou will have delayed, abbreviated fall sports schedules
The Southeastern Conference announced new start dates and competition standards for its fall Olympic sports on Thursday.
The number of games or meets for each non-football fall sport was scaled back, and start dates were also pushed back beyond the Sept. 1 date previously announced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Missouri volleyball is now scheduled to have an eight-match, conference-only slate over six weeks. The SEC season is set to run Oct. 16-Nov. 27, with schools competing against only four opponents, each twice in the same weekend.
Missouri women’s soccer will also compete in an eight-match, league-only schedule, with its regular season spanning eight weeks starting Sept. 18, followed by the SEC Tournament on Nov. 13-22 in Orange Beach, Alabama.
All 14 SEC soccer teams will compete for the league title, with each team guaranteed two matches at the tournament. In previous years, only the 10 best regular-season teams competed in the league tourney.
The Tigers’ regular season in soccer includes six games against divisional opponents and two crossover opponents, with four matches taking place at home and four on the road. Only one match will be allowed per week.
SEC volleyball and soccer teams will partake in spring competition as well, with details of those seasons contingent on final decisions by the NCAA on conducting spring championships.
“I think the girls have done a really good job. It's hard not to get frustrated when things are constantly changing,” Missouri head volleyball coach Joshua Taylor told the Tribune on Wednesday, a day before the SEC’s announcement. “Especially when a good majority of our returning players had pretty good years last year and they want a normal season, they want to be able to capitalize on what they built the past couple of years. But they've done a really good job.
“It's one of those things where you’ve got to realize you've got no control and you’ve got to be ready for anything and you’ve got to be pretty flexible and crammed with the changes that are constantly being made. And to be honest, I was overall very impressed with our girls, how they handled it since March.”
Taylor said there is extra importance on winning the SEC title this year because it’s unknown how many at-large NCAA Tournament spots would be available in the spring.
Men’s and women’s cross country – which features Blue Springs graduates Stephen and Victor Mugeche and Oaklee Hauschild on the men's team and Blue Springs South graduate Tori Findley on the women's team – are slated to have either two or three fall meets before the conference championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Oct. 30.
Those regular-season meets will take place during the seven-week period between Sept. 11-Oct. 23 and can include nonconference competition if those schools comply with the SEC’s COVID-19 testing protocols. No more than 10 teams may compete in a single race, and schools can’t compete in consecutive weeks.
The fall portion of the Missouri women’s tennis schedule, as well as that of Tiger men’s and women’s golf, may include up to three events beginning Oct. 1, with opponents being from the SEC or nonconference opponents “from the geographic region of the SEC school,” the league wrote in Thursday’s announcement.
Fall practices and intrasquad games for baseball and softball are allowed during the fall semester, but exhibition games against other programs aren’t permitted.
“I want us to be known for the team who succeeded in the hardest of circumstances,” Taylor said. “I’ll just be blunt. This year is going to suck when it comes to COVID. It will. And it sucks thus far. But I want to be known as the team who works the hardest and saw the most success in the hardest of circumstances, and I think our girls can do that.
“Everyone's struggling with COVID. It's not like it's just us. So how tough are we going to be? Are we going to rise to the occasion here? Are we going to let it break us down?
“I want to be known as the team that won the SEC in the year of COVID-19.”