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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's volleyball program has been picked to win the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) this fall, according to the 2012 GLIAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll announced today.
The Bulldogs captured 10 first-place votes and 211 total points as the favorite in the 16-team league. FSU, which won the GLIAC North Division a year ago, was tabbed to finish ahead of defending conference tournament champion Hillsdale. The Chargers came in second with 193 points and three first-place votes.
In the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II national poll, defending GLIAC Tournament and regular-season South Division champion Hillsdale is tied for 10th while Ferris, the defending regular-season champion of the North Division, is ranked 14th in the country.
The GLIAC race figures to feature tough battles nearly every time out in one of the nation's premier Division II volleyball conferences. In addition to the preseason national rankings for the Chargers and Bulldogs, Grand Valley State was listed among "Others Receiving Votes" in the poll released on Aug. 14.
In the preseason GLIAC poll, the coaches tabbed Ferris State and Hillsdale in front of Grand Valley State as the Lakers were third with 176 points and a single first-place vote. Saginaw Valley State also earned a first-place vote in finishing fourth with 173 points while Wayne State was fifth with 168 points and a single top vote.
The 2012 GLIAC Volleyball Tournament will begin with quarterfinals on Nov. 14 on campus sites. The semifinals and finals held on Nov. 17-18 on the campus of the number one remaining seed.
Ferris State will host its annual home invitational this Friday and Saturday (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) at the Ewigleben Sports Complex in Big Rapids. FSU is scheduled to play two contests per day, starting with its 2012 season opener versus Alderson-Broaddus on Friday at 4 p.m. (ET) inside the Ewigleben Sports Arena. Following that tilt, the Bulldogs entertain former GLIAC foe Mercyhurst in a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup.
In Saturday's action, FSU takes on West Virginia State at 1 p.m. (ET) before wrapping up tourney play against Clarion (Pa.) in a 5 p.m. (ET) encounter.
The Bulldogs won the GLIAC North Division Championship while also reaching the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Semifinals in 2011. Ferris State finished as league co-champions after posting an 18-1 conference mark under head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.
Here's an overview on the 2012 campaign for FSU:
Ferris State Bulldogs
Head Coach: Tia Wilhelm
2012 Preseason Pick: 1st
2011 Record: (27-4), 18-1 GLIAC)
OVERVIEW: Ferris State University is coming off of one of its best seasons in recent memory as it finished 27-4 overall, won the GLIAC North Division championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. The Bulldogs finished 18-1 in the conference. Ferris has a solid supporting cast returning to lead the team into the 2012 season led by 5-foot-11 senior setter Samantha Fordyce and 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter Anne Sutton. Ferris officially opens its 2012 season on Friday, Aug. 31, with a pair of non-league matches in its own Ferris State Invitational in Big Rapids. The team hosts Alderson-Broaddus (W.Va.) and Mercyhurst in its first two matches of the tournament. The Bulldogs then conclude play at the invitational on Saturday, Sept. 1, with contests against West Virginia State and Clarion (Pa.). The Bulldogs enter the 2012 season ranked 14th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll.
THE PLAYERS: The Bulldogs return with an experienced roster that includes 11 letterwinners from 2011, including a pair of All-GLIAC and all-region honorable mention picks in Fordyce and Sutton. Ferris features solid depth at the hitter positions with Courtney Rehm, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter; Angi Kent, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter; and Aly Brecht, a 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter and a 2011 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention choice. Rehm was the 2011 GLIAC Freshman of the Year and an All-GLIAC Second Team choice in 2011. The Bulldogs will look for candidates to step in and fill the void left by the graduation of standout Lisa Tobiczyk, the 2011 GLIAC Libero of the Year. Fordyce and Sutton were 2011 All-GLIAC First Team competitors.
THE COACH: Ferris is coached by Tia Brandel-Wilhelm, who is in her 17th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Brandel-Wilhelm was the 2011 GLIAC Coach of the Year.
OF INTEREST: The Ferris women's volleyball program is celebrating its 40th season of intercollegiate competition this fall.
Ferris State Picked To Win GLIAC Volleyball Championship
Click Here For Official GLIAC Release