Killing it

FSU volleyball seniors step up

For the No. 1 Ferris State volleyball team, senior hitters Megan Vander Meer, Alexis Huntey and Caroline Heitzman have been killing it this year; pun intended.

These ladies have led Ferris State to a perfect home and conference record, and a 22-1 overall record. Combined, they have more kills and total attempts than the other 12 women on the team.

Nationally, Ferris State is No. 10 in opponent hitting percentage and No. 16 in hitting percentage. Allowing hitting percentage of .113, the Bulldogs have doubled that output scoring on 25 percent of their attempts. They are first in the GLIAC in both categories.

A lot of this is the result of the overwhelming power coming from the hits of Heitzman, Vander Meer and Huntey.  Heitzman led the team in blocks last year and is on pace to do the same this year. She has 72 total blocks on the year, averaging a block per set. On the year she has 226 kills, 518 total attempts and 271 points.

She was named to the 2014 NCAA-II Midwest Region All-Tournament team after the Bulldogs lost in their fourth consecutive regional semi-final match.

Heitzman’s highlight game of this year came against Saginaw Valley State where she had 15 kills, 21 total attempts and 18.5 points leading the team in all categories.

Huntey was an all-GLIAC first teamer last year and looks in form again this year with 216 kills, 231 digs, 36 blocks, and is first on the team in total attempts with 648. She also has a team leading 39 serving aces demonstrating her versatility.

She received the Coach’s Award at last year’s banquet. This award, decided by the coaches, is given to a player who is coachable and dedicated to the team in the big picture.

Head Coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm said, “She was an immediate impact player. She can play every position. She’s so aware on the court. She has the smarts and ability to be everywhere.”

Megan Vander Meer was an All-American, all-GLIAC selection last year. For this year, she has 619 total attempts, 225 digs, 288 points, and is first on the team in kills with 246. Like Huntey, Brandel-Wilhelm said that Vander Meer can play multiple positions.

Even though she is a Grand Rapids product, Vander Meer said Grand Valley was never an option.

“My parents have known Tia for a really long time,” said Vander Meer. “First time she saw me play she wanted me to practice with her team to see how I’d mesh with the team and obviously it worked out. Grand Valley was never an option for me.”

22-1 is an impressive record but the lone blemish for FSU came against Wheeling Jesuit in a 3-0 loss. The Bulldogs have only lost 7 sets in the 22 other matches.

“We were excited to play a match against a really good team,” said Heitzman. “It’d be nice to win every game but it’s not going to happen. We saw how we did against great competition and we played well. We just didn’t get the win.”

Focusing on a stat sheet, Heitzman, Vander Meer and Huntey stick out more than any other players, but there is a fourth senior getting it done for Ferris.

Senior libero Danielle Dowd was an academic All-American last year and has controlled the back line all this year with a team leading 333 digs including a 25 dig game against Missouri Western State.

She is also third on the team in serving aces and assists this year with 17 and 43 respectively.

Brandel-Wilhelm said that “DD” Danielle Dowd has been instrumental in their offense since she took over at the libero spot last year.

The Ferris volleyball team has seven regular season matches left, all of which will be played against conference opponents.

The first team in line will be Michigan Tech who is second in the GLIAC. The match will take place on Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. in Houghton.