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RICHMOND, Va. – Six 2011 NCAA Tournament participants, as well as an exciting inaugural Atlantic 10 lineup, await Virginia Commonwealth University, which released its updated 2012 schedule Tuesday.

As has been his custom, Rams' Head Coach James Finley has assembled a challenging non-conference slate to prepare VCU for a rugged, 14-match Atlantic 10 campaign. The Rams open the 2012 season on Friday, Aug. 24 when they meet Illinois State in a tournament hosted by Ball State in Muncie, Ind.
On Aug. 25, VCU will meet the host Cardinals for the second time in as many years. Ball State, which earned an NCAA at-large bid in 2011, defeated the Rams 3-1 on Sept. 17 at Michigan State.
VCU will also travel to N.C. State Aug. 31-Sept. 1 and to Army – which features NCAA Tournament participants Albany and Sacred Heart - for tournament action. Additionally, the Rams will host the annual VCU/Third Degree Sportswear Invitational Sept. 7-8 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. This year's Third Degree Invitational features in-state rival Virginia, Appalachian State and Georgetown.
Middle Tennessee State, a 2011 NCAA Tournament participant, visits the Verizon Wireless Arena on Monday, Sept. 3 in a marquee non-conference tilt for the Rams. A similar contest with defending Big South Champion Liberty is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Richmond.
The Rams will play their first match as a member of the Atlantic 10 on Friday, Sept. 21 at Duquesne and follow with a contest the next day at George Washington. On Sunday, Nov. 4, the Rams will host defending league champion Dayton at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Duquesne will host the A-10 Tournament this season in Pittsburgh, Pa. Nov. 16-18.
"This schedule is a good balance for us to prepare for the difficult task of pursuing our first A-10 championship," said Finley, entering his eighth season. "We're really excited about the challenge of competing in the A-10 this year and thrilled at our administration's ability to put us in a position to compete in a league of this quality."
Fans can purchase season tickets for the 2012 VCU Volleyball season by contacting the ticket office at (804) 828-RAMS.
VCU was 17-17 in 2011 and reached the Colonial Athletic Association Championship match for the fourth time since 2005. Seven letterwinners return for the Rams in 2012 including rising senior Kristin Boyd (Wilmington, N.C.), a Second Team All-CAA honoree, rising sophomore setter Cecilia Aragao (Recife, Brazil), who was named CAA All-Rookie and to the CAA All-Tournament Team, and rising senior Jasmine Waters (Landover, Md.), who set a VCU single season record with 157 blocks last year.
The Rams will also welcome a talented five-player recruiting class that includes Martina Samadan (Split, Croatia), Saige Gallop (San Diego, Calif.), Sami Blaze (Fort Myers, Fla.), Megan Stumpf (Federal Way, Wash.) and Romana Kriskova (Bratislava, Slovakia).