Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's volleyball program, which won both its fourth consecutive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Regular Season and Tournament Championships this past fall, recently announced the additions of three talented prep performers, who inked with FSU during the fall signing period.
The incoming class, which will join the program in the fall, includes standout outside hitter Audrey Bellina (Niles/Edwardsburg), middle hitter Samantha Hermann (Channahon, Ill./Minooka) and outside Danielle Thompson (Geneva, Ill). All three will be freshmen in eligibility during the fall 2018 campaign.
"Overall, we're elated with the additions of this trio and believe they are all a great fit for our program as we continue to build upon the outstanding volleyball tradition at Ferris State," said head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.
The 5-11 Bellina has earned all-conference recognition each of the past four years for Edwardsburg High School and was an all-state pick this season. The standout outside hitter has twice served as a team captain and garnered team Most Valuable Player Award recognition each of the last three seasons. She is also a four-time all-academic choice under head coach Sarah Strefling and four-year letterwinner. The daughter of Joe and Cindy Bellina, she plans to major in pre-dental at Ferris State and has also played on the club level for the Krush Volleyball program.
"Audrey is a strong, physical player who is a gritty, determined competitor," said Brandel-Wilhelm. "She is a power at the net and used to being a key player for her high school and club teams. Along with all of that, she's a dedicated player, strong student and a great fit with our team. We are grateful and excited to add Audrey to the program."
Meanwhile, Hermann has had a standout prep career for Minooka High School in Illinois as a middle hitter where she's led the conference in total blocks. The 6-0 Hermann helped guide her team to back-to-back regional, section and super-sectional crowns along with state-qualifying finishes in 2016 and 2017 under coach Carrie Prosek. She's also played club volleyball for the Uno Ybc program for coach Terri Baranski.
Besides volleyball, Hermann also played both soccer and basketball on the high school level and has been active in several other activities, including the National Honor Society, Indian Athletic Leadership Club, the Junior Class Committee and FFA. The daughter of Keith and Dana Hermann, she plans to major in biology/prep-veterinary medicine at FSU.
"Sammi is dynamic middle hitter with a great technical foundation," Brandel-Wilhelm said. "She is a selfless, hard-working team player who will immediately add to our team's success. Additionally, she is a consistent winner – having finished runner up in the Illinois state championship both her junior and senior seasons.
"Overall, Sammi fits in very well with our team culture," she added. "She is an exceptional student who will be an impactful teammate on and off the court. We are thrilled Sammi choose Ferris State and we are excited to have her join our team."
Finally, Thompson compiled nearly 250 kills with over 100 digs and 40 blocks in 2017 for Geneva High School in Illinois. She claimed team Most Valuable Player Award honors as a sophomore and junior while also serving as a team captain. The 5-9 Thompson has also played basketball on the prep level and is the daughter of Bonnie Mackenzie. She plans to major in pre-physical therapy at Ferris State.
"Danielle is a very athletic, complete six rotation volleyball player," said Brandel-Wilhelm. "Her ball control skills are excellent. She has a big vertical and good armspeed in addition to being a dynamic player along with a terrific fit for our style of play.
"Combined with all of that, Danielle is an excellent student and will be an impactful court leader," she added. "We are pleased she's decided to become a Bulldog."
Ferris State made its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and has now advanced to at least the regional semifinals each of the last seven years. FSU's regional appearance this year represented the program's 22nd all-time.
In 2017, FSU closed the year with a 24-8 overall mark and also captured the program's fourth-straight GLIAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. FSU became the first school to ever win four consecutive league tourney crowns this fall.
This year marked the 16th time in 22 seasons under Brandel-Wilhelm in which FSU has claimed at least 20 victories in a campaign. The Bulldogs also made their 20th consecutive GLIAC Tournament appearance this season.