RICHMOND, Va. – A season-opening trip to 2010 NCAA Quarterfinalist Purdue kicks off an outstanding 2011 VCU Volleyball Schedule, released Wednesday.
The Rams will also face nationally-recognized Baylor, Maryland, Georgetown, Michigan State and Wake Forest, not to mention their usual competitive Colonial Athletic Association slate, as seventh-year Head Coach James Finley (pictured, right) continues his aggressive scheduling philosophy.
"We're excited about this year's schedule," said Finley, the second-winningest coach in VCU Volleyball history. "It's important that we continue to play a tough schedule for our program to continue growing. In 2011, we'll play teams from the Big 10, ACC, Big 12, MAC, Big South, MEAC, NEC, Big East, Ivy League, and Southern, along with our tough CAA competition."
The 2011 season will commence on Sunday, Aug. 21 when VCU hosts its annual Black and Gold Scrimmage at the Verizon Wireless Arena at 3 p.m. Regular season play begins on Aug. 26, when the Rams meet The College of Charleston in Purdue's Mortar Board Premier Tournament in West Lafayette, Ind. The following day, the Rams will battle the host Boilermakers, as well as top-50 RPI squad Baylor.
The Rams also have trips planned to College Park, Md., where VCU will face Maryland (Sept. 2), Xavier and Quinnipiac (Sept. 3), as well as East Lansing, Mich. for a tournament that will include reigning Northeast Conference Champion Sacred Heart (Sept. 16), host Michigan State and Ball State (Sept. 17).
The VCU/Third Degree Sportswear Invitational returns to the Siegel Center Sept. 9-10 following a one-year hiatus. The Rams will host North Carolina A&T, Cornell and George Washington.
Finley has also included mid-week road match-ups with Georgetown (Sept. 6) and Wake Forest (Nov. 1).
CAA action kicks off Sept. 23 when the Black and Gold head to Fairfax, Va. to meet George Mason. The Rams will host defending CAA Champ Delaware on Oct. 15 at the Siegel Center. The CAA Tournament is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 20 at the site of the regular season champion.
On Nov. 26, VCU will head to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to clash with Middle Tennessee State, one of four 2010 NCAA participants on this year's schedule.
In 2010, the Rams used a challenging non-conference schedule that featured six ranked teams to prepare them for CAA play. VCU's 2011 ledger looks to be similarly difficult.
"Our team had a very positive reaction to our very tough 2010 schedule and our players expect to be challenged with this year's slate of teams," Finley said. "Opening the season at Purdue, along with Baylor and the College of Charleston will let us evaluate our team against strong competition. Your strengths and weaknesses stand out when you play good teams, so we are excited to see what our hard work this spring has generated."