Matches against five 2010 NCAA Division II Tournament participants, including three who concluded the season nationally ranked, is just one of the Ferris State University women's volleyball schedule highlights for the 2011 season. The announcement was made by 16th-year head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm.
The Bulldogs are slated to play 26 matches during the regular season and will face three GLIAC teams which earned a placing in last season's final American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Top 25 Poll.
"We're excited about our schedule, which will be a very tough," stated Brandel-Wilhelm, who ranks second among Ferris State's all-time winningest women's volleyball coaches. "Our conference should be one of the most competitive it's been in several years as a number of teams could win the league title. We also face a number of quality regional opponents at our own season-opening tournament and at the GLVC/GLIAC Crossover Tournament in mid-October."
"I believe we become a better team when we're repeatedly challenged and this schedule will certainly bring that out in us," added Brandel-Wilhelm.
Ferris State embarks on its 2011 campaign and the program's 39th season of intercollegiate play on Sept. 2-3 as the Bulldogs host the annual Ferris State Invitational on two courts divided between the Ewigleben Sports Arena and Jim Wink Arena, which are both located on the FSU campus. The Bulldogs square off against Drury (Mo.) and Wisconsin-Parkside in their initial two season-opening contests before wrapping up the two-day tourney with matches versus Southern Indiana and California (Pa.). The other three teams comprising the eight-team tournament field are Lake Superior State, Upper Iowa, and Urbana (Ohio).
The Crimson and Gold start off their 19-match conference schedule in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with away encounters versus Michigan Tech on Sept. 9 and against Northern Michigan on Sept. 11. The Bulldogs will then begin a seven-match homestand covering a two-week period, starting with a Sept. 14 home tilt versus West Michigan rival Grand Valley State and concluding on Oct. 1 as Saginaw Valley State pays a visit to Big Rapids.
FSU then takes to the road for three conference outings, which includes its annual visit to Grand Valley State on Oct. 2. Back-to-back away matches with Lake Erie on Oct. 7 and versus Ashland on Oct. 8 wrap up the brief road swing.
For the fourth straight season, Ferris State will participate in the Mizuno GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference)/GLIAC Crossover Tournament to take place Oct. 14-15 in Aurora, Ill. The Bulldogs will play three matches during the two-day event, all against GVLC competition.
The final two regular-season home appearances for Ferris State will be Oct. 22-23 against Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, respectively. The Bulldogs then take to the road for their final five outings of the 2011 regular-season campaign, culminating on Nov. 5 at Lake Superior State.
The 2011 GLIAC Tournament gets underway on Nov. 10 with quarterfinal-round action at campus sites. The conference tourney semifinals and championship match are scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13, respectively at the site of the highest remaining seed.
Ferris State returns 11 letterwinners from its 2010 squad which produced its 13th consecutive winning season as the Bulldogs registered an 18-10 overall record. FSU also made its 13th straight GLIAC Tournament appearance and advanced to the conference tourney's semifinal round.