A well-balanced team will try to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
The Ferris State volleyball team will turn to its five returning starters to help improve on a 16-13 record from a season ago.
Four seniors return to lead a well-balanced team into the 2009 campaign. The team is comprised of four seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen respectively, along with three redshirt freshmen. The Bulldogs return 12 of 15 letter-winners from the 2008 season. Head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm said the seniors, as well as young players, have shown great leadership.
The Bulldogs finished the 2008 season with an 8-8 record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and ranked fifth in the North Division. It marked the first time since 2000 that the team did not record at least 12 victories in conference play. However, Brandel-Wilhelm is optimistic for this season.
“The members of the team have been working very hard since last December to make sure this is one of the best volleyball seasons our University has had,” said Brandel-Wilhelm.
Brandel-Wilhelm announced that senior Sarah Lark and junior Dana Ruttle are the co-captains for the 2009 season.
“Sarah and Dana were chosen as captains for their ability to harness our strong leadership on and off the court,” said Brandel-Wilhelm.
Among the returning starters are junior Arielle Goodson, who earned Second Team All-GLIAC honors in 2008, and senior Kristy Gilchrist, who was an All-GLIAC honorable mention in 2008. The other returning starters are seniors Katie Edwards and Sarah Lark, along with sophomore Ashley Huntey. Edwards led the team in kills in 2008 with 274, while Goodson racked up a team high 92 blocks.
Senior Amanda Kettlewell and juniors Danielle Hamilton and Whitney Rupp are among the returning letterwinners, along with sophomores Lisa Tobiczyk and Karen Thompson.
The key losses from last year’s team include Andrea Rich, a First Team All-GLIAC outside hitter and Candice Marut, the 2008 FSU Most Valuable Player.
Coach Brandel-Wilhelm has a 269-138 record in her 13 seasons at Ferris and has won an impressive 71 percent of her games in her 16-year career. With 387 career victories, she ranks in the top 25 among active Division II volleyball coaches.
The Bulldogs begin their 2009 season with a home contest against St. Joseph’s (Ind.) on Aug. 27 at 7:00 p.m.