THE Bendigo Bank Spirit will hit the road early in their WNBL championship defence.
The 2014-15 WNBL fixture was released on Wednesday, with the Spirit to play five of their first seven games on the road.
For the second year in a row the Spirit will have to wait until their second game to unfurl their championship banner, with their season-opener to be in Townsville on Saturday, October 18 in what's a grand final rematch.
Having beaten Townsville in the 2012-13 grand final as well, the Spirit also had to make the trip up north in their first game last season to take on the Fire.
"We were chasing our first game to be at home and the stadium was available, but we didn't get it, unfortunately," Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said on Wednesday.
"It would have been nice to unfurl our flag at home in our first game of the season, but instead we're off to Townsville again for the second year in a row."
The Spirit lost their season-opener to Townsville last season by 12 points, before going on to win their next 16 games en-route to their second WNBL title.
The Spirit's first home game of the season will be on Saturday, October 25 at 3pm against Lauren Jackson's University of Canberra.
With the Logan Thunder no longer in the WNBL, the season has been reduced to 22 games for each club.
Each team will play one opponent four times and the other six three times, with the Spirit to take on Melbourne four times.
The Spirit will make seven inter-state trips, including two to Perth and Sydney.
Three of Bendigo's inter-state trips will be in their last five games, including the Spirit's final match of the regular season against Canberra on February 13.
The Bendigo Stadium will host the WNBL pre-season tournament on October 10-12.