There's excitement in the air for the Ferris State University women's volleyball program as the Bulldogs unveiled their 2009 season schedule which features 29 regular-season matches, including 15 home outings. The announcement was made by 14th-year head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.
A new refurbished floor along with the implementation of the university's traditional crimson and gold colors are just a few of the offseason changes as Ferris State prepares for its 37th season of intercollegiate competition this fall.
The 2009 season schedule for Ferris State features four non-conference matches versus opponents who were listed in the final 2008 Bison/American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II Top 25 Poll. Furthermore, the Bulldogs will square off twice in the regular season against a pair of 2008 nationally-ranked foes in Grand Valley State and Saginaw Valley State as part of their 16-match Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) slate.
"We're excited about playing a challenging schedule featuring a high level of talent and competition," said Brandel-Wilhelm, who ranks second among Ferris State women's volleyball's all-time winningest coaches with a 269-138 bench mark (.661 winning pct.). "I think our tough non-conference matches will prepare us well for a strong conference schedule which in turn should provide some exciting matches. We're looking forward to our many home matches and it will be exciting to open the season on our new floor with a home crown cheering us on."
Ferris State begins its season on Aug. 27 entertaining Saint Joseph's (Ind.) in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-league match at FSU's Ewigleben Sports Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The season-opening match pits Brandel-Wilhelm against one of her former players in SJC head coach Jill (Behrns) Schopieray.
"Jill (Schopieray) is doing great work with that program and it will be quite a challenge to compete against her," said Brandel-Wihelm.
The Bulldogs then host their annual Ferris State Invitational (Aug. 28-29) on three courts between the Ewigleben Sports Arena and Jim Wink Arena, both on the FSU campus. FSU will play two matches per day beginning with West Virginia State and Indianapolis on Aug. 28 before wrapping up tournament play the following day versus California (Pa.) and Minnesota-Crookston. The tourney field also includes Saginaw Valley State, Northwood, Quincy (Ill.), and Southern Indiana. California (Pa.) compiled a 12th-place national ranking a season ago while Minnesota-Crookston is under the direction of former FSU assistant Lee Anderson.
"Lee (Anderson) is building his team with some outstanding players," Brandel-Wilhelm said. "It will be a great challenge to compete against such an athletic team being lead by such a strong tactician as Lee is."
After hosting its own tournament, Ferris State ventures to St. Cloud, Minn., to compete in the St. Cloud State Invitational (Sept. 4-5). The Bulldogs will go up against Upper Iowa, Nebraska-Kearney, Wayne State (Neb.), and Missouri S&T. Nebraska-Kearney was ranked sixth in last season's final national poll while Wayne State (Neb.) earned a 25th-place ranking.
The conference portion of Ferris State's schedule starts Sept. 11-12 as the Bulldogs host Wayne State and Northwood on consecutive days. FSU, which has nine home GLIAC regular-season matches this fall, squares off against West Michigan archrival and third-ranked Grand Valley State Sept. 15 at home before heading off to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for conference contests versus Michigan Tech (Sept. 18) and Northern Michigan (Sept. 19). A schedule highlight is Oct. 23 when the Bulldogs face Grand Valley State for a second time during the 2009 regular season as the two GLIAC teams meet in Allendale, Mich.
For the second consecutive season, Ferris State will participate in the Asics GLIAC/GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference) Crossover Tournament (Oct. 16-17) at the Aim High Facility in Lansing, Mich., with the GLIAC serving as the tournament host. Like a season ago, the Bulldogs are scheduled to play a pair of matches on the tourney's opening day (Oct. 16) and one match in the final day (Oct. 17) all against GLVC schools.
Ferris State concludes the regular season Nov. 6-7 with a pair of home conference encounters versus Michigan Tech (Nov. 6) and Northern Michigan (Nov. 7).
The GLIAC Tournament gets underway Nov. 11 with quarterfinal-round matches at campus sites. The semifinal matches and championship tilt will be conducted Nov. 14 and 15, respectively.
FSU has chalked up a 391-204 all-time record (.657 winning pct.) against their 2009 opponents. The Bulldogs are 417-230 (.645 winning pct.) versus conference opponents and have a 17-1 ledger (.944 winning pct.) against their 2009 non-conference foes. Ferris State will be going up against Davenport, Missouri S&T, Wayne State (Neb.), Minnesota-Crookston, Upper Iowa, and Nebraska-Kearney for the first time in the program's history.
The Bulldogs produced a 16-13 overall record for the 2008 campaign which represented the program's 11th straight winning season and the 28th consecutive time of compiling a double-digit victory total. FSU also made its 11th GLIAC Tournament appearance in a row last season.