The nationally 14th-ranked Bulldogs finished up the 2012 Ferris State University Volleyball Invitational with a 3-1 victory over Clarion University (Pa.) Sept. 1 at the Ewigleben Sports Arena.
The victory improved the Bulldogs to 3-1 on the weekend, finishing tied for second in the tournament and behind conference foe Northern Michigan, who finished 4-0.
The match against Clarion started with a 17-25 loss, but the Bulldogs were able to crack the Golden Eagles in the second set for a 27-25 win and finished them off with back-to-back 25-19 victories.
Sophomore middle hitter Courtney Rehm found herself under the gun early but was able to shake off the pressure to post nine digs and seven kills.
“I think I played well for my team,” Rehm said. “They kept serving to me, and my teammates could see I was struggling and they were able to help me out until I found a rhythm.”
The Bulldogs came out of the gates slow, committing 15 errors throughout the match, many of them early, but were able to slow down the match and finish off Clarion with relative control over the Golden Eagles.
“I think definitely in the middle of the second set we were able to calm down and adjust,” Rehm said. “We just took a deep breath and fixed the errors.”
The Invitational added the challenge of making the Bulldogs play a match, then turn around and adjust for the next one within hours.
Ferris State opened the tournament with a 3-0 blowout of the Alderson-Broaddus (W. Va.) Battlers, winning 25-11, 25-17, and 25-15 in straight sets.
Anne Sutton led the way against the Battlers, notching 14 kills on the way to making the All-Tournament Team.
When ranked 14th in the nation and being named the championship favorite in the conference for 2012, a loss to unranked Mercyhurst at home can be a devastating blow to team confidence. Senior setter Samantha Fordyce said the team has been focusing hard on reducing errors.
“We talked about things we wanted to learn from that game and how we planned to grow from it. We decided that we couldn’t let that loss dictate our season,” Fordyce said. “I don’t think we played to our potential. There are always things we can improve on; this is a long season.”
The visiting Mercyhurst Lakers showed up ready to play, winning 3-2 overall to upset the Bulldogs. Ferris State quickly fell into a two-set hole, dropping the first and second sets 22-25 and 19-25, respectively.
Backed against the wall, Ferris State came back to win the third set 25-20. FSU bullied Mercyhurst in the fourth set, securing the set in an emphatic 25-10 fashion. The Bulldogs seemed poised for a big fifth set comeback win.
But Ferris State could not get off the ground in set five, dropping it 7-15. The loss kept Ferris State from finishing the tournament 4-0, thus allowing fellow GLIAC member Northern Michigan to take home bragging rights for the weekend.
The Bulldogs shook off the upset to Mercyhurst to wake up the next day, Sept. 1, and sweep West Virginia State 25-19, 25-14, 25-23.
Along with Sutton, Ferris State’s Angi Kent also made the All-Tournament Team, leading Ferris State with 18 total blocks. FSU’s Fordyce finished the weekend with 132 assists.
The Bulldogs head to Minnesota-Duluth this weekend for the Minnesota-Duluth Classic, where they take on Minnesota-Crookston, Bemidji State, nationally seventh-ranked Minnesota-Duluth, and Erskine (S.C.).