Men's basketball team travels to face two-time WCC champion Santa Clara on Nov. 11;
Women's volleyball to host first UC Merced home contest in any sport on Sept. 22
MERCED — The first varsity sporting event on the University of California, Merced, campus will take place Sept. 22, when the Golden Bobcats host Pacific Union College in women's volleyball. And UC Merced's men's basketball team will face its biggest test on Nov. 11, when it travels to face Santa Clara.
Those are among the highlights on the schedules released today by UC Merced, which will join the California Pacific Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in four sports this fall. Schedules for men's and women's cross country have not yet been finalized.
"This will be a momentous year for UC Merced as we begin building the foundation for what we hope will be a vibrant athletics program with a rich tradition," said David Dunham, director of recreation and athletics. "That tradition begins now, and our future success will depend on the hard work put in by our athletes, coaches and staff, as well as support from the community."
The women's volleyball team will begin its inaugural season at the William Jessup Tournament in Rocklin on Sept. 9 and 10. The Golden Bobcats will then return for their home opener against Pacific Union on Sept. 22 and another home match against Cal State San Marcos on Sept. 24. They'll close out the regular season on Nov. 4, at home against Menlo College.
In what has already been established as an annual tradition, the men's basketball team will kick off its season with Midnight Madness, beginning at 11 p.m. Oct. 13. Its first game will be Nov. 5 at Westmont College, and its home opener will be Nov. 19 against Fresno Pacific.
Of particular note, though, is the Nov. 11 contest at Santa Clara. The Broncos, two-time champions of the West Coast Conference and alma mater of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, went 24-14 last year and capped their season by winning the second annual CollegeInsider.com Post-Season Tournament in March.
"Going into the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, facing a team of that caliber and in that environment, will be an incredible experience for our young athletes and our fans," Dunham said. "And we're looking forward to a challenging conference schedule, which will be a great litmus test for our fledgling program."