FSU Sports
1999 Award Winners

The Bulldogs

1999 Ferris State University Volleyball in Review

Despite the fact that Ferris State entered the 1999 volleyball season without a senior on its roster, the Bulldogs would have been disappointed with anything less than an NCAA Playoff appearance. In 1998, FSU surprised everyone but themselves by finishing second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's tough North Division, then added a second-place finish in the conference tournament and narrowly missed qualifying for the Division II playoffs.

Entering 1999, Ferris would not be surprising anyone and scheduled a respectable non-conference schedule to prepare for a tough conference regular season.

In their season-opening tournament at the Ewigleben Sports Arena (Aug. 27-28), the Bulldogs won four straight matches on their home court, highlighted by a thrilling 3-2 victory over Wheeling Jesuit in the season opener. Junior middle hitter Sarah VanderMolen and sophomore setter Lisa Chard were named to the all-tournament team for their strong play during the weekend.

The following weekend (Sept. 3-4), Ferris traveled to Florence, Ala., for the North Alabama Classic. FSU dropped its first match of the tournament to Grand Canyon, but rebounded to win the next three behind the strong play of VanderMolen, who earned all-tournament team honors for her efforts.

The Bulldogs traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind., on Sept. 10-11 for an important tournament vs. Great Lakes Region opponents. Ferris continued to play excellent volleyball and extended its winning streak to six matches by recording victories over Bellarmine, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and IUPU-Ft. Wayne.

Entering the conference season with a 10-1 record, FSU's first five matches were against North Division foes. Wins in the first three of those matches over Saginaw Valley, Northwood and Lake Superior provided Ferris with a season-best nine-match winning streak. Unfortunately, the streak came to an end at Northern Michigan when the Bulldogs lost to the Wildcats.

Following the NMU match, FSU faced five straight road matches. During that span, Ferris recorded wins over Michigan Tech, Mercyhurst and Westminster while losing at Gannon and Grand Valley.

With their next four matches at home, the Bulldogs rebounded from the tough road trip to start what would be their second-longest winning streak of the season. FSU won all four home matches, improving to 10-0 at home in 1999, by a combined score of 12-2. VanderMolen received GLIAC Player-of-the-Week accolades after she recorded 39 kills and 39 digs in victories over Wayne State and Hillsdale.

On the final road trip of the regular season, Ferris defeated Saginaw Valley State before losing at Northwood.

Ferris returned home for the final four matches of the regular season, all against North Division opponents. The Bulldogs defeated Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech in the first two matches to extend their home winning streak (dating back to the 1998 season) to 18 straight. Once again, Northern Michigan would be the team to end a streak for Ferris. Despite the home loss, Ferris regrouped to defeat Grand Valley in the final regular-season game.

FSU finished an impressive 13-1 at home in 1999, tying the third-highest home win total in team history.

The Bulldogs began the post-season as the No. 4 seed from the North Division at the GLIAC Tournament in Battle Creek, Mich., after finishing with a 14-5 conference record. In the first round, FSU knocked off Hillsdale, the No. 1 seed from the South Division, to advance to the semifinals vs. Northern Michigan.

Before 1,200 fans at Kellogg Arena, Ferris avenged the two earlier season losses to NMU by defeating the Wildcats in a 5-game match where every game was decided by four points or less. With the victory, FSU advanced to the championship match of the league tournament for the second straight season.

In the championship match, Northwood proved to be too much for a tired Ferris squad and defeated the Bulldogs. VanderMolen and Chard were both named the all-tournament team. Fortunately, the loss didn't end FSU's season. The Bulldogs' strong play throughout the season and conference tournament was enough to earn them a bid to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament for the first time since 1992.

The Bulldogs packed their bags again and traveled to Highland Heights, Ky. to compete in the regional along with Northwood, Northern Michigan and host Northern Kentucky. In the first round of the single-elimination tournament, Ferris squared off with No. 3-ranked Northern Kentucky and defeated the Norse, 15-13, in the first game before losing the next three, 3-15, 9-15 and 11-15. Junior outside hitter Morgan Buckner was named to the all-tournament team after leading the team with 13 kills and adding 17 digs.

Ferris finished the season with a 26-8 overall record (14-5 GLIAC) while recording its best winning percentage (.765) and league win total since 1990. Individually, a number of players earned post-season awards. VanderMolen received first-team All-GLIAC and All-Great Lakes Region honors; Chard was named to the All-GLIAC first team and GTE Academic All-District IV second team; and Buckner was an All-GLIAC second-team selection.