PREVIEW: Ferris State Volleyball Heads To NCAA Tourney As Defending Regional Champs

PREVIEW: Ferris State Volleyball Heads To NCAA Tourney As Defending Regional Champs

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*The Opening Serve:
The Ferris State University women's volleyball team will be making its fourth consecutive NCAA Division II Regional Tournament appearance and will take on Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) foe Lewis (Ill.) on Thursday (Nov. 20) in a 5 p.m. (ET) regional quarterfinal match at the Grand Valley State Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale, Mich.

*Ticket Information: Tickets will be $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and children or $3 for college students of the competing teams with a valid ID card. The prices are based per session and no all-tourney passes will be available.

*Media Coverage: Thursday's game will be carried live by Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network. Should FSU advance, the matches on Friday and/or Saturday would only be available online due to broadcast conflicts. GVSU will provide live internet statistics and a live video webcast of all matches.  All links will be available at

*NCAA Tourney History: Ferris State will be making its fourth-straight NCAA-II Regional appearance and has reached at least the regional semifinals three-straight years.  FSU's appearance in 2011 was its first since 2009 (Nov. 9) when the Bulldogs dropped a 3-0 decision to Lewis (Ill.) to Indianapolis, Ind.  FSU's upcoming regional appearance will represent the program's 19th all-time as the Bulldogs have compiled a 12-19 overall record in NCAA Tournament competition.

*The Regional Tourney: Grand Valley State was chosen as the third seed and will host the regional tournament from Thursday to Saturday (Nov. 20-22).  Semifinals will take place on Friday night with the championship match on Saturday. The field features six teams from the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) and two from the GLIAC. The winners of each of the 2014 eight regionals will advance to the national finals (Dec. 4-6) which will be conducted at Knights Hall in Louisville, Ky.

*42nd Season: The 2014 campaign represents Ferris State's 42nd season of women's volleyball. The Bulldogs own an all-time record of 907-487 (.651). Since the program's inception in 1973, the Bulldogs have won 11 GLIAC titles, qualified 19 times for the NCAA-II Tournament and registered 34 winning seasons.

*2014 Record: Ferris State currently maintains a 23-5 overall record and was 17-1 in the GLIAC during regular-season action en route to finishing first along with rival Grand Valley State as both teams posted identical 17-1 marks.

*GLIAC Tourney Champs: The Bulldogs, seeded second after losing the first-place tiebreaker on a coin flip, claimed the school's second-ever GLIAC Tournament Championship last weekend in Allendale. FSU beat seventh-seeded Hillsdale 3-0 in the quarterfinals at home last Wednesday (Nov. 12) before topping third-seeded Findlay 3-0 on Saturday (Nov. 15) to reach the final. FSU then beat host GVSU 3-1 in Sunday's (Nov. 16) title match.

*The Coach: FSU head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm (Alma, 1990) is midst her 19th year at Ferris State. Brandel-Wilhelm ranks among the nation's top active coaches with a 523-206 (.717) career record.  She holds a record of 405-186 (.685) at the Bulldog helm. Brandel-Wilhelm entered the 2014 campaign as Ferris State's all-time winningest coach. She became the program's fifth head coach in June 1996.  Brandel-Wilhelm notched her 350th win at the Ferris State helm in 2012 and posted her 500th career victory in last year's NCAA Midwest Regional final against host Grand Valley State.

*FSU vs. Lewis: Ferris State and Lewis have not yet met this season entering the regional tournament.

* We Meet Again: This is the third straight season the Bulldogs have faced off against the Flyers in the NCAA Tournament. Two years ago, Ferris State won the NCAA Regional Tournament match in Indianapolis, Ind., by a 3-1 count. A year ago, the Bulldogs topped the Flyers in Allendale during the regional quarterfinals by a 3-1 score as well.

*Scouting the Flyers: Lewis is making its ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.  The Flyers earned an at-large bid to the 64-team tournament after a top-8 ranking in the Midwest region.

* More Match Notes: The Bulldogs placed tied for first overall this season in the GLIAC standings with a 17-1 league mark and it marked the fourth-straight year in which FSU finished either first or second in the conference.  Lewis owns a 22-7 overall record this season and posted a 14-4 mark in GLVC action before falling in the conference tournament.

* The Division II Tourney: The Division II Women's Volleyball Committee selected a total of 64 teams to participate in the 2014 Division II Women's Volleyball Championship. Eight teams were selected from each of the following eight regions: Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West. The eight, eight-team regionals will be played at on-campus sites. Regional competition will be single-elimination, best three-of-five-set matches and will not include a third-place match. The winners of each of the eight regionals will advance to the national finals Dec. 4-6 at Knights Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.

*2014 GLIAC Volleyball Preseason Poll: Ferris State was selected second in the 2014 GLIAC Preseason North Division Coaches Poll. The Bulldogs captured one first-place vote and 43 total points in being chosen behind Grand Valley State in the division. Northern Michigan came in third overall in the North Division with Saginaw Valley State fourth and Wayne State fifth in the top five.

*National Attention: Ferris State is ranked 17th nationally in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II National Poll released on Nov. 17.  Three years ago, FSU's 11th-place national ranking was the program's highest ranking in 20 years. The Bulldogs have been ranked for most of this season and are one of two GLIAC member schools found in the top 25 along with 18th-ranked Grand Valley State.

*GLIAC Award Recipients: FSU had five players receive recognition as the 2014 All-GLIAC Awards were presented in conjunction with the conference volleyball tournament. Ferris State paced the GLIAC with a league-high three All-GLIAC First Team selections this fall, including senior hitter Courtney Rehm (Portage/Central) along with junior outside hitters Megan Vander Meer (Grand Rapids) and Alexis Huntey (Stanwood/Morley Stanwood). In addition, the Bulldogs had a second-team choice in sophomore setter Stephanie Sikorski (Rochester Hills/Rochester) and an honorable mention recipient in junior middle hitter Caroline Heitzman (Newaygo).

*Daktronics All-Region: FSU junior outside hitter Megan Vander Meer received all-region acclaim as she was named Wednesday to the 2014 Daktronics All-Midwest Region Second Team. This season, Vander Meer leads the Bulldogs with 297 kills in 28 matches heading into the regional tournament. She's appeared in 94 sets to date and also owns the squad's top hitting percentage with a .278 figure. Additionally, she's tallied 234 digs, 44 blocks and 18 service aces to date for Ferris State. The AVCA all-region teams, which are compiled by coaches from across the country, have yet to be announced.

*GLIAC Players Of The Week: A total of three different FSU student-athletes combined to receive GLIAC North Division Player of the Week laurels five times this season. This year, the Bulldogs' weekly honorees included two-time winner Megan Vander Meer along with senior hitter Courtney Rehm, who also won the award twice, and junior hitter Alexis Huntey.

*Looking To Repeat: Ferris State enters the tournament as the defending NCAA Midwest Regional Champions as the Bulldogs won three-straight matches a year ago in Allendale to claim the title and advance to the NCAA-II Elite Eight and the national quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs topped Lewis, Indianapolis and host Grand Valley State in the regional round a year ago before falling in the Elite Eight to perennial power BYU-Hawaii in a five-set thriller at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

*Important Fact: The Bulldogs have beat rival Grand Valley State twice to win championships on the Lakers' home floor over the last two seasons. A year ago, FSU won the regional championship match in five sets over the Lakers with a memorable rally and last week needed four sets to claim the 2014 GLIAC Tournament title.

*GLIAC Standing/Schedule: Fans can view the complete 2014 GLIAC Standings for both the North and South Divisions along with a composite schedule on the GLIAC website at

*Fan Bus Trip: Ferris State will offer a FREE bus ride for FSU fans interested in traveling to the Grand Valley State Fieldhouse Arena for Thursday's regional quarerfinal match between the second-seeded Bulldogs and seventh-seeded Lewis (Ill.). Thursday's quarterfinal will begin at 5 p.m. (ET) with the bus leaving the west side of the Ewigleben Sports Complex near the ticket office entrance two hours prior to match time at 3 p.m. (ET). With the free ride, the cost for Ferris State students and adults would only be the match ticket. Call (231) 591-2888 to sign up now!

*Academic Honoree: Ferris State junior libero Danielle Dowd also earned distinction this fall as she was chosen to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District IV First Team. The squad annually honors the top all-around student-athletes each year for their efforts on the court and in the classroom. Dowd is in her first season as the squad's top libero.

*2014 FSU Roster: Ferris State's 2014 active roster includes two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and six freshmen. Six of the 15 players are outside hitters, five are middle hitters and the four others fill the squad's setter, defensive specialist and libero roles.  All but three members of the team are from Michigan.

*Ewigleben Sports Arena: The Bulldogs have compiled a 340-87 (.796) record to date in 33 seasons of competition at the Ewigleben Sports Arena since moving from the Health and Physical Education (HPE) Building in 1981. Ferris, which has accumulated seven undefeated home seasons in the facility, produced a 15-1 home ledger in 2011 and was 12-2 in 2013. This season, the Bulldogs finished 10-0 in Big Rapids. Overall, Ferris is 193-47 (.804) in home matches under head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.

*Three Years Ago: The Bulldogs won the GLIAC North Division Championship while also reaching the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Semifinals in 2011 with a 27-4 overall record.  Ferris State finished as league co-champions after posting an 18-1 conference mark under head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.

*Did You Know: The Bulldogs appeared in their 17th straight GLIAC Tournament this season.

*All-Tourney Honors: The Bulldogs had three players named to the GLIAC All-Tournament Team last weekend. FSU senior outside hitter Courtney Rehm was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player Award recipient.In addition, Ferris State had two others also receive all-tournament team honors in junior outside hitter Megan Vander Meer and junior middle hitter Caroline Heitzman.

*Twenty More Wins: This year marks the 13th time the Bulldogs have won 20 or more matches in a season under 19th-year head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm. The Bulldogs have reached the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament 10 times in that span and advanced to the GLIAC Tournament the last 17 consecutive years to date.

*Yearbook Available Online: The 2014 Ferris State University Women's Yearbook will be available to view online in a PDF format. The publication features such information as 2014 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2013 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc.

Here are the quarterfinal-round pairing for the 2014 NCAA-II Midwest Regional Tournament:

Thursday, November 20
Match 1 - 12:00 p.m. - #1 Truman State (28-3) vs. #8 McKendree (20-13)
Match 2 - 2:30 p.m. - #4 Rockhurst (26-4) vs. #5 Indianapolis (19-10)
Match 3 - 5:00 p.m. - #2 Ferris State (23-5) vs. #7 Lewis (22-7)
Match 4 - 7:30 p.m. - #3 Grand Valley State (23-5) vs. #6 Missouri S&T (18-13)

Friday, November 21
Match 5 - 5 p.m. - (Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2)
Match 6 - 7:30 p.m. - (Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4)

Saturday, November 22
Match 7 - 7 p.m. - (Winner Match 5 vs. Winner Match 6)