FORT MYERS, Fla. - Head Coach Dave Nichols and the FGCU Volleyball team have announced their schedule for the upcoming 2011 season. The Blue and Green will play 11 home contests, all nine Atlantic Sun foes and travel to North Carolina Central, Miami (OH) and Penn State to participate in a trio of preseason tournaments.
“We are really excited about our non-conference schedule this season,” said Nichols. “It is a great blend of matches that will really challenge us. We play some outstanding in-state rivals, and we get the great exposure and experience of playing national powerhouses USC and Penn State. We think it is an entertaining, balanced schedule that will really prepare us for a strong conference run.”
The challenging 16-game non-conference schedule features games against schools from the BIG EAST, Big Ten, Conference USA and Pac-12. FGCU will play two matches against teams that finished in the top 5 in the final 2010 NCAA Volleyball Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and five matches against those in the top 100.
The Blue and Green will kick off the season on the road at the NCCU Tournament (Aug. 26-27) where they will take on Elon, Campbell and NCCU.
The Eagles open their home slate by hosting the second annual FGCU Homewood Suites Volleyball Invitational from September 2-3. The invitational field includes USC, UCF and Furman. The Women of Troy, who ranked No. 3 in the final AVCA Coaches poll, are coming off their sixth Final Four appearance in 11 years, thanks to a 29-5 overall record.
The Eagles then fly north to participate in the Miami (OH) Invitational from Sept. 9-10. The Redhawks will welcome FGCU along with Radford and Alabama A&M to Millett Hall for a series of matches. Miami (OH) finished 12-21 last season (5-11 MAC), making a run to the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, the fourth consecutive year they have reached that round.
A week later, the Blue and Green head to State College, Pa. to participate in the Penn State Tournament (Sept. 16-17), where they will take on Rutgers, LIU and four-time defending National Champion Penn State. The No. 1 ranked Nittany Lions return four starters from the 2010 National Championship team, including AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year and second team All-American Deja McClendon and NCAA Championship all-tournament team member Kristin Carpenter. The 2010 squad finished with a 32-5 record and secured its 14th overall and eighth straight Big Ten Championship.
Apart from the four tournaments, FGCU will take on USF, FAU (Nov.1), FIU (Nov. 8) and Villanova in individual regular season matches throughout the year. The Bulls, who made their fifth consecutive BIG EAST Tournament last season, finished the 2010 campaign 10-16 overall (6-8 BIG EAST). The Wildcats posted a 23-7 overall record and an 11-3 BIG EAST mark. They advanced to the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed after a two-year absence.
The Atlantic Sun Conference schedule will have a different look in 2011. For the first time, the A-Sun has opted to create divisions among the 10 volleyball teams. The Eagles will play in the southern division along with Jacksonville, North Florida, Stetson and Mercer. The Blue and Green will play each of these teams at home and away. FGCU will play the other five teams (Belmont, ETSU, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, USC Upstate) in the conference only once, either at home or away.
Lipscomb and Allen Arena will play host to the Atlantic Sun Championship from Nov. 17-19. The Bisons, the defending two-time A-Sun Champions, have made three NCAA Tournament Appearances in the last four years.
Season tickets for the home schedule will be available August 1. An adult ticket for all 11 games is $35, while a youth (3-18 years) ticket is $17. Single game tickets can also be bought at $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can get in for $3 a person. FGCU students and faculty/staff get in free with their student ID.
For the fifth 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 and Twitter updates will also be provided for all home matches and are available online at www.FGCUAthletics.com.
The 2011 edition of the Eagles returns nine players, including 2010 second team All-Conference performer Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian) and 2010 All-Freshmen Team selection Camil Dominguez (Santo Domingo, D.R./Santa Teresita). FGCU also welcomes seven newcomers to the program, including Marshall transfer Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and Clemson transfer Brooke Kohler (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Clemson).