RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University Volleyball Coach James Finley has long stated that he's willing to line up and play any team, anywhere. The Rams' 2010 schedule is proof positive of that philosophy.

Finley released VCU's 2010 slate Wednesday, one that includes dates with three-time defending National Champion Penn State, as well as eight other NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago. The Rams will also play a highly-competitive, 14-match Colonial Athletic Association schedule. VCU was the league's regular season champ in 2009.

"After making a big step toward becoming a nationally known volleyball program, we carefully put together the 2010 schedule to challenge our young talented team while presenting the opportunity for success at a higher level than before," Finley said. "We are so excited about the opportunity to play nine teams that competed in the NCAA tournament in 2009."

The Rams kick off the season Aug. 23 with the Annual Black and Gold Scrimmage at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Regular season play begins on Aug. 27 when VCU heads to Columbus, Ohio to face Ohio State. The Rams will head to Dayton the following day, where they'll meet the host Flyers, who were ranked 25th in last year's final AVCA Coaches Poll, and Arizona State.

For the second time in three seasons, VCU will participate in Penn State's invitational tournament, where it will play three matches. The Rams face off with the Nittany Lions on Saturday, Sept. 4. Penn State has won an NCAA record 101 consecutive matches.

The following weekend, Sept. 10-11, Finley's troops head to Lexington, Ky., where they'll face off with Florida State, host Kentucky and Kansas State. Both Florida State and Kentucky reached the NCAA Tournament last year and finished the season ranked 11th and 12th, respectively.

From Sept. 17-19, the Rams will travel west for a four-match stint that includes 2009 NCAA qualifiers Colorado State, Long Beach State and Middle Tennessee State.

VCU begins CAA action on Sept. 24 against Northeastern in a match at Richmond's Hanover High School. In a rematch of the CAA Championship Match, the Black and Gold will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on George Mason on Oct. 16. The CAA Tournament will be played the weekend of Nov. 21-22 at the league's top seed.

"This is the kind of competition our team has asked for and needs to continue moving forward," Finley said. "With the senior leadership of all-conference middle Kelsie Clegg and Mariel Frey, we're ready for this challenge and will accept the responsibility ahead of us.  This is 'The Year of the Ram'."

VCU finished 27-9 in 2009 and captured its first CAA regular season title. The Rams reached the league's championship match for the third time in five years under Finley.