Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University women's volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm reached an impressive career milestone by notching her 500th victory in this past Saturday's (Dec. 7) win over archrival Grand Valley State as the Bulldogs claimed the Midwest Regional Championship to advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
Brandel-Wilhelm, who is midst her 18th season at the Bulldog helm, improved to 500-200 (.714) in her head coaching career with the triumph. She became FSU's fifth head coach in 1996 and won her first 118 matches as a collegiate head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan.
To date, Brandel-Wilhelm is 382-180 (.680) at Ferris State and ranks as FSU's all-time winningest coach.
With this past Saturday's win, Brandel-Wilhelm guided Ferris State to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the first time in her head coaching tenure. The event is set for Thursday thru Saturday (Dec. 12-14) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Bulldogs will face BYU-Hawaii in the national quarterfinals on Thursday (Dec. 12) at 3:30 p.m. (ET) at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Bulldogs were making their first appearance in a regional final since 1992. This year's NCAA Tournament appearance represented FSU's 18th in school history, including the third consecutive year in which Ferris State has reached at least the regional semifinals and the program's ninth trip to the tournament under Brandel-Wilhelm's direction. Saturday night's victory marked the third time in which FSU has claimed a regional championship as the Bulldogs previously won crowns back in 1987 and 1989.
Since becoming the program's fifth head coach in June 1996, Brandel-Wilhelm has resurrected the program by guiding the Bulldogs to nine NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, which includes seven of the last 10 seasons. In the 2011 season, she directed the Bulldogs to the program's 10th GLIAC Championship as FSU posted a 27-4 overall record.
The Bulldogs followed up a highly-successful 2011 season by posting a 24-8 overall record in 2012 while reaching the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Semifinals for the second consecutive year. FSU also posted a 16-2 mark in GLIAC North Division play and came within a single victory of claiming a second-straight conference championship.
Success and Brandel-Wilhelm have become synonomous as Ferris State recorded the program's 16th consecutive winning campaign in 2013 as the Bulldogs attained double-digits in victories for the 33rd consecutive year.
Her 500 career wins also rank on the Division II active coaches total victories list and Brandel-Wilhelm is among the leaders in victory percentage for the winningest all-time coaches in the Division II ranks who have a minimum 10 years serving as a Division II head coach. She was voted as the GLIAC's Coach-of-the-Year for the third time in 2011 by her peers after leading Ferris to the program's first divisional title since the GLIAC was split into North and South divisions.
Prior to joining FSU, she served as head coach for three seasons (1993-95) at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W. Va. Under Brandel-Wilhelm's tutelage, the Bobcats racked up a 118-20 overall record, captured three West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) and regional titles, made two NAIA national tournament appearances, and placed fifth at the 1995 NCAA Division II Championships.
Brandel-Wilhelm left WVWC with an active streak of 80 conference victories. In 1993, she was selected WVIAC and NAIA Mid-South Region Coach-of-the-Year after guiding her team to an impressive 40-11 overall mark in her initial campaign.
Brandel-Wilhelm, who competed in both volleyball and track at Alma College, was an all-conference first-team scholar athlete. While attending Alma, she coached volleyball for two years at Alma (Mich.) High School.
A native of Whitehall, Mich., Brandel-Wilhelm is accredited by the United States Volleyball Association. Brandel-Wilhelm, who is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), also has held positions on the NCAA National Volleyball and AVCA Division II Volleyball Coaches Committees.