FORT MYERS, Fla. - Coming off a second place finish at the Atlantic Sun Championship, FGCU Head Volleyball Coach Dave Nichols has announced the 2010 schedule. The Blue and Green will play 10 home contests, all 10 Atlantic Sun foes plus travel to the University of Georgia and Oregon State University to participate in a pair of tournaments.
“Our 2010 schedule is really challenging,” said Nichols. “We are on the road against some of the best teams in the country, including top 20 powerhouses like Michigan, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State just to name a few. We are hopeful that the experience will pay dividends by the end of the year when we host our conference tournament. Our tough schedule is really helping with recruits as we try to get the FGCU name more familiar across the country. The goal of our program is to become a top 30 program, and the only way to get there is to play the best.”
The 2010 edition of the Eagles return 11 players, including All-Conference performer Jelena Simic (Lazarevac, Serbia), from the 2009 club that went 15-5 in the A-Sun. FGCU also welcomes six newcomers to the program, including former FGCU women’s basketball standouts Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.) and Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.).
The challenging 14-game non-conference schedule features games against schools from the BIG EAST, Big Ten, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West, Southeastern Conference (SEC), and Pac-10, in addition to the contests with fellow A-Sun Conference members.
The Eagles will play eight matches against the top 75 in the final 2009 NCAA Volleyball Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and 11 matches against those in the top 122.
FGCU opens the season by hosting the Homewood Suites Volleyball Classic from August 27-28, where they will take on Bethune-Cookman, UCF, FAU, and Houston Baptist.
The Eagles then fly west to face Pac-10 powerhouse Oregon on Sept. 1, in Eugene, Ore. Last year, the Ducks spent the entire season ranked in the top 20 and climbed as high seventh nationally en route to their third straight 20-win season (20-10 overall) for the first time since 1978-80. Oregon, who went 10-0 in non-conference play in 2009, also earned the No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament and an 18th-place final AVCA ranking.
Two days later, the Blue and Green head to Corvallis, Ore. to participate in Oregon State’s tournament (Sept. 3-4), where they will take on Michigan, UNLV, and host OSU. The Wolverines (27-10 overall, 12-8 Big Ten), who return 11 letterwinners from the 2009 squad that finished the year ranked No. 9, are coming off their most successful season ever, reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Just six days following the trip to Oregon State, FGCU will back on the road for the Bulldog Invitational hosted by the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. (Sept. 10-11). The Eagles will open the tournament by taking on Georgia Tech (Sept. 10), who finished last season 21-10 overall and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. FGCU then squares off with Georgia and Washington (Sept. 11). The Bulldogs finished tied for fifth in the SEC, the program's highest finish since 2004, while the Huskies (24-6 overall) finished the season ranked No. 13 and were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round.
The Eagles will face FAU in Boca Raton, Fla. on Sept 21, before taking on conference foes Belmont (Sept. 25) and Lipscomb (Sept. 26) in Nashville Tenn. With the league approving single round-robin play for regular season matches this year, FGCU’s road matches against Belmont and Lipscomb in September will not count in conference standings. Last season A-Sun teams played a double-round robin format. In 2011 the conference will have a round robin-and-a-half with divisional play.
Conference play officially commences when FGCU faces Jacksonville on Oct. 1, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Eagles swept the Dolphins in the semifinals of the 2009 A-Sun Conference Championship.
The Blue and Green entertain Kennesaw State (Oct. 15) and Mercer (Oct. 16) on back-to-back days for their first home A-Sun matches of the season.
The final five matches of the regular season will be highly anticipated. The matches on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 promise to carry huge championship ramifications, as the Eagles play host to 2009 A-Sun Champion Lipscomb and Belmont, who finished fourth in the regular season standings last season. The Blue and Green host FIU (Nov. 9) and travel to USF (Nov 11) to conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule. The final regular season match for FGCU, which will also be Senior Day, comes at home against Stetson on Nov. 13.
Florida Gulf Coast and Alico Arena will once again play host to the Atlantic Sun Championship from Nov. 18-20.
For the fourth consecutive season, FGCU is proud to provide live and on-demand video streaming for all home matches via the Atlantic Sun Conference's broadband channel, ASun.TV. Live stats will also be provided for all home matches and are available online at www.FGCUAthletics.com.