Head volleyball coach Tami Audia has released the 2012 25-match Georgia State season schedule.
No less than six 20-win teams and three NCAA Tournament teams await the young Panthers in 2012.
"With a team that includes eight new players among our roster of 13, being ready to start will be a challenge," Audia noted. "But, we know we should improve as the season progresses and be playing our best volleyball in October."
The Panthers will open the season in nearby Athens, Ga., with four matches in three days from August 24-26. GSU will open with a future Sun Belt opponent, Troy (16-15 last year) on Friday afternoon. The Panthers will face an 18-15 Georgia Southern team on Saturday morning and a Serbian National team that afternoon. On Sunday, GSU battles host Georgia.
"Playing on the road to start will test the team right away, but it should be a great experience over at Georgia," Audia noted. "Starting the year with eight straight on the road will give us a chance to bond and learn about one another."
On the second weekend, GSU will journey to Indianapolis on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The Panthers will be challenged by an NCAA Tournament team in Ball State (25-8 from MAC) in Friday's opener. On Saturday, GSU will tangle with IUPUI and then North Texas.
A road contest in Birmingham against UAB on Tuesday, Sept. 4 finishes the opening stretch of eight straight road contests to start the season.
The Georgia State Invitational will be played in the GSU Sports Arena on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7 and 8. GSU will play host to another NCAA Tournament team in Samford (29-5 in SoCon), Mercer from the A-Sun and a future regular opponent, South Alabama from the Sun Belt.
"We are always excited to play host to our Georgia State Invitational and hope our fans will come out and make it even more special," the veteran coach said. "It is a great field and full of more challenges for us."
GSU stays in town to play at the Georgia Tech Classic on Sept. 13 against 20-11 Clemson and then will meet the host Yellow Jackets on Sunday, Sept. 16.
In the final season of the Colonial Athletic Association, GSU will play 12 league matches. The CAA includes NCAA Tournament team Delaware (21-13), Northeastern (21-6), James Madison (20-11) and Towson (23-9).
"While we know we won't be playing in the CAA Tournament this year, we still have an opportunity to fight for an NCAA at-large bid, so every match will be important," Audia added. "The future looks really bright with this class of eight new players and the move to the Sun Belt Conference."