Thursday, September 07, 2000

XU arena set for its first competition

Volleyball tourney opens Cintas Center

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Floyd Deaton, Xavier's 11th-year volleyball coach, sometimes will go into the Cintas Center when it's empty and sit in a chair on the sideline. He'll look around and remember when the building was just a rumor on campus.

        But it's no longer a rumor — it's a reality.

  4-6 p.m.: Party, plaza outside Cintas Center main entrance. Music, free food and prizes
  4 p.m.: Virginia vs. Western Michigan
  7 p.m.: Xavier vs. Middle Tennessee State
  10:30 a.m.:
Xavier vs. Western Michigan
  1 p.m.: Middle Tennessee State vs. Virginia
  4-6 p.m.: Party, plaza outside Cintas Center main entrance.
  6 p.m.: Middle Tennessee State vs. Western Michigan
  8 p.m.: Xavier vs. Virginia
  Tickets: $5 adults, $3 youth, XU students free; groups of 15 or more are half price
  Ticket office: 745-3411
        The Xavier University Invitational Volleyball Tournament, which begins Friday, is the first athletic event to be held in the Musketeers' new $44 million on-campus facility.

        XU (1-3) faces Middle Tennessee State at 7p.m. Friday. Other teams entered are Virginia and Western Michigan.

        “I think it's special,” Deaton said Wednesday. “Right now, I'm preparing for the competition. I think it will hit me when I walk on the floor 15 minutes before the game. Then I'll realize it's the real deal.”

        The building's opening is as much an event as the volleyball tournament.

        Men's basketball season-ticket holders were sent invitations good for two tickets to the tourney. There will be parties on the plaza outside the main entrance to the Cintas Center on Friday and Saturday. There have been radio and TV promotions.

        “It gives me the chills when I think about it,” senior setter Tami Ores said. “This place automatically starts the competitiveness. I think it's going to be so much fun. Every team that walks in here will be impressed (with it), down to the visitors' locker room. They should be envious of us.”

        Deaton used to try to get recruits to visit Xavier — and commit to the school — before they'd visit anywhere else. He would find himself apologizing for Schmidt Fieldhouse, which he said was the oldest in-use athletic facility in the state.

        Now, Deaton said, he encourages recruits to visit other schools first, see their facilities, then compare them to the Cintas Center.

        “There is a total commitment that Xavier now is the full package, athletically and academically,” Deaton said.

        The building already is paying dividends for Deaton's program.

        Molly Martin, a senior from Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minn., is one of the top setters in the midwest. She was playing in a tournament in Louisville in July and decided to pay an unannounced, unofficial visit to Xavier with her mother.

        Martin took one look at the campus and the new facility, returned home and e-mailed a commitment the next day.

        “It was just gorgeous,” Martin said. “It was so new and so big and so cool. I liked it a lot. It definitely impacted my decision. I visited other places. Denver had a new facility, too, but it was nothing like the impact of the Cintas Center.” Before Wednesday's volleyball practice, the arena was put through sort of a dress rehearsal. The public address system was tested. Players' pictures were displayed on the giant video scoreboard hanging over the court.

        “I love that we're the first ones to play in it,” said junior Sara Bachus, a Seton High graduate. “I think we're all pumped. I hope we get more students to come this year.”


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