NEW ORLEANS — Nine home matches, four against NCAA Division I opponents, and 10 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference matches await the 2011 Xavier University of Louisiana women’s volleyball team.

First-year head coach Christabell Hamilton announced Friday the schedule, which includes 25 regular-season contests.


Xavier’s first home match will start at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29, one week from Monday, against Mobile at The Barn. The Gold Nuggets will begin their fourth season of intercollegiate competition next Friday with a 7 p.m. match at Belhaven in Jackson, Miss.

Division I opponents visiting Xavier will be Mississippi Valley on Sept. 10, Southern on Sept. 19, New Orleans on Oct. 5 and Prairie View A&M on Oct. 6. Xavier will travel twice to play DIs: Sept. 9 at Alcorn State and Oct. 25 at New Orleans.

GCAC membership increased from six to eight with the addition of Philander Smith and Talladega in July. Each team will play 10 league matches this season — two apiece against three opponents and one each against the other four. Neutral sites will be employed for part of the GCAC schedule, with Xavier traveling to Talladega for three matches Sept. 23-24 and to crosstown rival Dillard for three matches Oct. 7-8.

Xavier will play two GCAC matches apiece against SUNO, Edward Waters and defending tournament champion Dillard and one each against Fisk, Philander Smith, Talladega and Tougaloo. The Nuggets’ GCAC opener will be Sept. 17 against SUNO at The Barn.

The GCAC will crown a regular-season champion this year, and the winner of the league tournament Nov. 9-12 at Nashville, Tenn., will earn the GCAC’s automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship.

First-time opponents will be New Orleans, Philander Smith, Prairie View, Southern and Talladega.

Five Gold Nuggets — sophomore Kerris Crier and seniors Iva Bobkova, Joyy Joseph, Patrice Hightower and Celeste Poe — return from last season’s 11-26 team, which finished third in the GCAC Tournament. Bobkova was All-GCAC. The seniors will be honored Nov. 5 during the regular-season finale against Dillard.

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