Alabama announces 2011 Women's Volleyball schedule

University of Alabama head women's volleyball coach Ed Allen announces the schedule for the 2011 volleyball team. The Crimson Tide will play 31 matches in the upcoming season, which include 14 matches in newly renovated Foster Auditorium, the new home for the women's volleyball program.

Alabama will play a schedule that includes 17 matches against 10 teams that made the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Those teams include Austin Peay, Ohio State and Alabama A&M during the non-conference schedule and two matches against LSU, Auburn, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida during Southeastern Conference play.

"We have a difficult schedule with over half our matches against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last year," Allen said. "The schedule will challenge this team to improve throughout the course of the year. I'm excited to see how our team will handle that challenge."

UA opens the season at home with the Hampton Inn Bama Bash on Aug. 26-27. The four-team event will feature Alabama State, Austin Peay and Texas State. The Crimson Tide season opens the event with a noon match against the Alabama State Hornets in Foster Auditorium.

"The Bama Bash is a great opportunity to open Foster Auditorium against three teams that will measure us," Allen said. "They are matches, that if we're able to play like we're capable of playing, we should be able to compete favorably in. "

Following the tournament, Alabama will hit the road for seven straight matches, with the first road match of the year at Samford on Aug. 30. UA then travels to Dallas, Texas to compete in the SMU Doubletree Invitational on Sept. 2-3. The tournament includes Lamar, TCU and SMU. UA opens the tournament against Lamar on Friday before wrapping things up with matches against TCU and SMU on Saturday.

The following week, the Tide travels to Toledo, Ohio to participate in the Rocket Classic against Toledo, Ohio State and Pennsylvania. UA opens the Rocket Classic against tournament host Toledo on Friday, before playing Ohio State and Penn on Saturday.

"The fact that we will be on the floor nine times in a three week period will help this team grow and gel as we approach SEC play," Allen said. "The Toledo tournament will challenge us with three quality opponents that should compete for conference titles in their respective leagues."

The Rocket Classic will serve as the final tune-up before Alabama opens SEC play at home against Arkansas on Sept. 16. The opening weekend of SEC play concludes with a home match against LSU on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Alabama's first road SEC match will be on Sept. 23, when the Tide travels to instate rival Auburn. UA will play a non-conference home match against Alabama A&M on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m.  Following the final non-conference match of the season, UA closes out the season with 14 SEC contests.

The final home weekend of the season has Alabama playing Kentucky and Tennessee on Nov. 11 and 13, respectively. Alabama closes out the regular season on the road at Mississippi State (Nov. 20) and Mississippi on (Nov. 25).

"Year in and year out the SEC is one of the top four conferences in the country," Allen said. "Playing SEC competition will help us get better as we approach December. Ultimately, playing in a league as difficult as the SEC certainly prepares you for playing in December."

The 64-team field for the 2011 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 27.