FSU & GVSU Picked to Tie in North; Hillsdale Tabbed to Win South in 2010 GLIAC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll

FSU & GVSU Picked to Tie in North; Hillsdale Tabbed to Win South in 2010 GLIAC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll

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FSU & GVSU Picked to Tie in North; Hillsdale Tabbed to Win South in 2010 GLIAC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll

Written by Sandy Gholston, special writer for the GLIAC

BAY CITY, Mich. -- The 2009 campaign provided ample evidence of the high quality and depth of volleyball excellence that keeps the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in good standing among the best of its peers in Division II.

    Last fall, the conference had six teams advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament as Saginaw Valley State, Northern Michigan, Hillsdale, Grand Valley State, Ferris State and Michigan Tech all earned bids to the volleyball version of the big show. In claiming six of the eight awarded bids to the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Tournament, the GLIAC expects that trend of high-level success to continue in 2010 as its teams gear up to solidify its position as a premier volleyball conference in D-II.

    In this fall’s preseason GLIAC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll, Ferris and Grand Valley were picked in a tie for first in the North Division. The Lakers earned 32 points and three first-place votes while the Bulldogs had 32 points and two first-place votes. Hillsdale was picked in the top spot in the South Division with 36 points and six first-place votes.

    The projected preseason divisional leaders, however, can in no way take anything for granted with fierce competition ahead each night.

    In the North Division, Northern Michigan is third behind Ferris and Grand Valley with 24 points and one first-place vote. Saginaw Valley State is fourth with 23 points, Michigan Tech is fifth with 17 points, Northwood is sixth with 13 points and Lake Superior State is seventh with six points.

    In the South Division, Ashland is second with 17 points, Wayne State is third with 22, Findlay is fourth with 19 and one first-place vote, Ohio Dominican is fifth with 13 points, Tiffin is sixth with 12 points and Lake Erie is seventh with nine points.

    Last season, Hillsdale College made history as it won a five-set thriller over Saginaw Valley State to win the 2009 GLIAC Volleyball Tournament title. It was the first such win in the history of the Chargers’ program. During the regular season, Saginaw Valley finished atop the North Division and Hillsdale finished atop the South Division to almost set the stage for their showdown for the tournament championship.

 -- The following are previews of all 14 GLIAC Volleyball teams for the 2010 season --

Ashland Eagles
Head Coach: Connie Surowicz
8th Season (135-81)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  2nd  (South)
2009 Record:  (16-14, 9-7 GLIAC)

OVERVIEW: Ashland has a strong cast of returning players, including three starters back from the 2009 season, on the court.  Last season, the Eagles finished above the .500 mark with a 16-14 record and 9-7 in the GLIAC South Division (second place) under head coach Connie Surowicz, who is entering her eighth season on the sidelines for the Eagles. Ashland is hoping to return to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since 2007 when it fell to Lewis in the first round of the regional tournament.   
THE PLAYERS: In all, the Eagles return eight letterwinners led by Brittany Snider, a 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter, who totaled 504 kills, 295 digs and 26 aces. Crystal Elliott, a sophomore setter, finished with 1,169 assists, 175 digs and 48 blocks. Arian Martin, a junior libero, ended the 2009 season with 487 digs and 41 service aces. The seniors on the roster for the Ashland Eagles are Sophie Paddock and Lauren Schweitzer. Juniors are Anesia Benton and Arian Martin. The balance of the team is comprised of sophomores and freshmen.
THE COACH: Connie Surowicz is in her eighth season as head women’s volleyball coach at Ashland. Surowicz has a record of 135-81 (at AU). Her overall record, through 18 seasons, is 418-210.
OF INTEREST: Ashland’s women’s volleyball program has been in existence since 1968 and the all-time record is 718-527. The program has four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances with the most recent coming in 2007.



Ferris State Bulldogs
Head Coach: Tia Wilhelm
15th Season (406-170)
2010 Preseaon Pick: t-1st  (North)
2009 Record:  (19-12, 10-6 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Ferris battled hard last season in a competitive race for the GLIAC North Division title. This year, with 12 returning letterwinners and four returning starters, the Bulldogs are primed to compete with the likes of Saginaw Valley, Grand Valley, Northern Michigan and others. This season, Ferris welcomes back a talented group of veterans, younger players who have gained experience and a few newcomers who will be eager to earn their spots on the roster.

THE PLAYERS: Expected to lead the way for Ferris this season is 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter Arielle Goodson, who was a 2009 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Midwest Region Team, a 2009 All-GLIAC First Team performer and a member of the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team. Other returning starters include Ashley Huntey, a junior outside hitter and Samantha Fordyce, a sophomore setter, who has developed nicely during her time in Big Rapids. Lisa Tobiczyk, a junior, returns as a top-notch libero who earned 2009 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention player and a team leader. The Bulldogs must fill in for the losses of middle hitters Kristy Gilchrist (2009 All-GLIAC First Team), Sarah Lark and outside hitter Katie Edwards.

THE COACH: Tia Brandel-Wilhelm is entering her 15th season as head coach of the Bulldogs and is joined this season by top assistant Theresa Beeckman, (sixth season), and Dale Wilhelm (seventh season).

OF INTEREST: Brandel-Wilhelm enters the 2010 season ranked 24th in best winning percentage among the nation’s Division II active coaches with a 406-170 (.705) career mark in 17 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Her 406 career wins represents 23rd place on the Division II active coaches total victories list.


Findlay Oillers
Head Coach: Wick Colchagoff
13th Season (250-139)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  4th  (South)
2009 Record:  (15-18, 5-11 GLIAC)

OVERVIEW: Optimism is running high in Findlay, Ohio as the Oilers enter the 2010 season with high hopes under head coach Wick Colchagoff. UF has 10 letterwinners returning to the court – a group that includes a strong group of experienced upperclassmen who have matured into leaders through what will be a tough schedule in the GLIAC. A good group of talented players is ready to take the leadership responsibilities and younger players are eager to step in and prove their talent in one of the toughest NCAA D-II volleyball conferences in the nation.

THE PLAYERS: Erin Thomasson, a junior, is one of the key returning players for Findlay. Last season, as a sophomore, she finished with 366 kills en route to earning second-team All-GLIAC recognition. Abby Lavigne is back after leading the team with 290 digs. Setter Megan Florence and Jessica VonIns are back to run the show for the Oilers. Florence is a talented leader who last season earned All-GLIAC Honorable Mention as she averaged 7.1 assists per set and led the team with 78 aces. Junior Morgan Rogers and sophomore Andrea Holthaus are back and looking to become even more of a factor this season as leaders at the net in the middle. Look out also for Danielle Taflinger and Mackenzie Vorst, a pair of freshmen, to battle for playing time.

THE COACH: The Oilers are coached by Wick Colchagoff, who enters his 13th season as the head man after the team finished 15-18 in 2009.

OF INTEREST: Said Colchagoff, “We are very excited about the mix of athletes that we have on our roster this fall. We feel we have the right combination of senior leadership, experienced upperclassmen, and promising freshmen to put an extremely competitive team on the court every night.”



Grand Valley State Lakers
Head Coach:  Deanne Scanlon
16th Season (403-115)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  t-1st (North)
2009 Record:  (16-13, 11-5 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Grand Valley returns four starters from the 2009 squad and has high hopes of battling once again for the top spot in the GLIAC. Last year, the Lakers had an up-and-down season compiling an overall record of 16-13 and 11-5 in the GLIAC for a second-place finish in the North Division. Successful long-time head coach Deanne Scanlon has constructed a team that has a good dose of talent led by Rebeccah Rapin, who finished with 327 kills, a .275 attack percentage and 115 total blocks in 2009. With Rapin leading the way, Scanlon’s squad plans to battle for GLIAC supremacy.
THE PLAYERS: During the 2009 season, Rapin enjoyed another strong season. The Saginaw, Mich. native, playing middle blocker, was named AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and All-GLIAC First Team for her efforts. Krysta Kornack, a 6-foot-2 senior from Warren (Mich.), is coming off a season during which she tallied 158 kills, 79 total blocks and served up 18 aces. Senior Meghan Scanlon, a 5-foot-7 setter, totaled 580 assists, 202 digs and 34 aces. Also setting the table, North Branch (Mich.) native Olivia Kohler racked up 416 assists, 132 digs and 16 aces as a setter while Eno Umoh,a  5-foot-11 middle blocker, finished with 103 total blocks to complement 92 kills.
THE COACH: Head coach Deanne Scanlon enters her 16th season leading the Lakers. Scanlon has a career record of 403-115 at Grand Valley. Coach Scanlon is assisted by Craig Vliestra, Mayme Vlietstra and Brian Netzler.
OF INTEREST: The Lakers open the season on the road in the Sunshine State as they will compete in the University of Tampa Tournament. While in Florida, GVSU will play Concordia-St. Paul, Central Missouri, Nebraska-Kearney and Tampa.


Hillsdale Chargers
Head Coach: Chris Gravel
15th Season (280-173)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  1st  (South)
2009 Record:   (24-8, 12-4 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Tradition is alive and thriving on the volleyball court at Hillsdale College. A year ago, the Chargers added to that strong recent history with a season during which HC posted a record of 24-8 overall and finished 12-4 in South Division (first place). Hillsdale earned GLIAC co-champion status last season, won the 2009 GLIAC Tournament, and advanced to the NCAA D-II Regional Semifinals under head coach Chris Gravel. The 2009 Chargers were a team of decorated individuals who combined their talents for a banner season. Many of those individuals are back and hungry for more success in the fall of 2010.

THE PLAYERS: Leading the returners is Sydney Dow, a senior who was named the GLIAC “Libero of the Year” and first-team All-GLIAC in 2009. That just begins the honors, however, as Dow also was named to the GLIAC All-Tournament Team and was named all-region. Ashlee Crowder also is back, as a junior, coming off a season in which she totaled 491 kills en route to earning all-region, GLIAC All-Tournament Team and third-team All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Clara Leutheuser, a junior was named an AVCA honorable mention All-American as she finished with 336 kills and 153 total blocks. Apryl Schmucker, who added 1,139 assists to go along with her 174 kills and 255 digs, is coming off a season during which she was honored as an All-GLIAC Second-Team competitor.

THE COACH: Head Coach Chris Gravel was named the 2009 GLIAC “Coach of the Year.” Gravel also has compiled 280 career victories (all at Hillsdale)

OF INTEREST: Last season was one of team success as the Chargers were GLIAC co-Champions, GLIAC Tournament champions, GLIAC South Division champions and NCAA Division II Tournament regional semifinalists.



Lake Erie Storm
Head Coach: Gary VanCauwenberge
9th Season (256-165)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  7th  (South)
2009 Record:  (10-27)


OVERVIEW: This will be a season of transition for Lake Erie College – much as it is for Ohio Dominican. The Storm enters its first season in the GLIAC, like ODU, and knows full well it will be challenged right from the beginning and all the way through until the end of the campaign. But, Lake Erie does have a group returning that does have some experience at the Division II level with 15 players returning and five starters back in the lineup. The team finished 10-27, but is hopeful the lessons learned in 2009 will make for better grades on the court during the 2010 season. Said head coach Gary VanCauwenberge, “We’ve been a very young team the past two seasons, but our current players have gotten a lot of experience during that time. I think that with the experience of our returners plus a strong freshman class, we should be very competitive.”

THE PLAYERS: Mary Walter is back in the lineup for the Storm and she is coming off a productive season during which she led the team with 264 kills. Next on the list is Michelle Naab, who is back after finishing with 187 kills during the 2009 season. Nicole Kunar also makes her return after a 161-kill campaign a year ago. Krista O’Connor, a junior, and Lauren Bogatay, also a junior, are back at setter for LEC. O’Connor, in 2009, finished with 534 assists while Bogatay added 399.
THE COACH: Gary VanCauwenberge is entering his ninth season as the head coach at Lake Erie College.

OF INTEREST: In addition to serving as the head coach of the LEC volleyball team, he also is head coach of the Storm softball team.



Lake Superior State Lakers
Head Coach: Mark Engle
16th Season (126-318)
2010 Preseaon Pick:  7th (North)
2009 Recod:  (3-24, 2-14 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Lake Superior State is coming off a very tough season competing in the GLIAC’s ultra-competitive North Division. The Lakers struggled with a 3-24 record, but does benefit from some experienced players back in the mix this season as 10 letterwinners are returning to complement seven newcomers added by head coach Mark Engle, who is in his 16th season on the sidelines for Lake State. This will still be a very young squad with no seniors, but listing eight juniors.

THE PLAYERS: One of the major bright spots last season for the Lakers was the play of 5-foot-6 Brittany Newberry, a native of Iron Mountain (Mich). Last fall, playing libero as a sophomore, Newberry was named All-GLIAC Honorable Mention in as she averaged 5.69 digs per game (sixth nationally) and compiled a team-leading 528 digs. Additionally, junior outside hitter Abby Shereda, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, finished with 154 kills while sophomore outside hitter Nikki Stratelak, a Grosse Pointe (Mich.) native, totaled 146 kills. Last year, Janelle Balkwill led the team with 645 assists while Brandiss Ward tallied 106. This year, Balkwill and Ward will compete for the setter position, along with incoming freshman Katie Katie Fitzpatrick and Kristin Kopicki.

THE COACH: Coach Mark Engle, a veteran of the sidelines in the GLIAC, is back for his 16th season in charge at Lake Superior. Engle has a career record of 126-318.

OF INTEREST: Engle, who has been at the helm of the Lake Superior program since 1995. His entire head coaching career has taken place at Lake Superior.


Michigan Tech Huskies
Head Coach: Orlando Gonzalez
2nd Season (14-15)
2010 Preseason Pick: 5th (North)
2009 Recod: (14-15, 10-6 GLIAC)

OVERVIEW: Optimism is running high for college volleyball in Houghton as Tech commences year two of the era of Orlando Gonzalez as head coach of the Huskies. This year’s squad features some fresh faces as Gonzalez and company hope to build upon the success of last season’s team which qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament, but lost eight players in the time since. The coaching staff has added new talent that includes three transfers who could pay early dividends for the Huskies as MTU battles it out against some of the best teams in the region and the nation in the GLIAC’s North Division.

THE PLAYERS: Kristine Sexton is a leading returner for the Huskies at 6-foot-2 and as a junior up front. Sexton garnered All-GLIAC First Team honors a year ago as she led the team with 373 kills and with an attack percentage of .248. Alicia Schneider is back coming off a season during which she tallied 171 kills. Sophomore Lindsey Sathre is back off an injury and Kathleen Storm could factor into the mix as well. At setter, Madeline Haben returns with experience after totaling 1,136 assists during her freshman campaign in 2009. Skylar Paffenroth and freshman Ciara Sebelius are chasing Haben for playing time. The Huskies do have several newcomers who could be critical components this season.

THE COACH: Orlando Gonzalez embarks on his second season as the head coach at Michigan Tech after serving as an assistant coach for the 2008 season at Northwood, a GLIAC rival of the Huskies.

OF INTEREST: The Huskies begin the season with some tough competition in Big Rapids at the Ferris State Invitational, with four tough matches expected, Sept. 3-4.



Northern Michigan Wildcats
Head Coach: Dominic Yoder
4th Season (59-36)
2010 Preseason Pick: 3rd  (North)
2009 Record:  (19-12, 11-5 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Northern Michigan, like several GLIAC teams, enters the 2010 campaign with the hopes of competing for conference supremacy. Dominic Yoder, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Wildcats, welcomes back a team with five returning starters (with three lost). The Wildcats will have a young, but talented look on the court. Last season, Northern Michigan finished tied for second place in the North Division in the standings with Grand Valley and just behind Saginaw Valley.

THE PLAYERS: From the 2009 squad, Northern lost two first-team All-GLIAC players in Amy Andersen-Goldsworthy, who was a middle hitter, and Mandie Meyer, an outside hitter. In addition, NMU graduated Cassie Osiecki, who was All-GLIAC Second Team and Katt Garvick, who was All-GLIAC Honorable Mention. Back on the court for Northern are Sami Vierk, a 6-foot junior middle hitter and Emma Wolfe, a 6-footer who plays the left side and middle hitter. Additionally, Becca Feuerherd, Katie Twardzik and Abby Lovell are back for NMU this season. The top newcomers this season for Northern are Kristin Wetzel, Ellen Lemos, Carolina Lopes and Catherine Waybright.

THE COACH: Head coach Dominic Yoder is in his fourth season working to return and keep the tradition-rich Northern Michigan program among the nation’s elite. In his first three seasons, Yoder had a record of 59-36. Yoder is being assisted this season by Kim Falkenhagen and Hayvolla Leite.

OF INTEREST: NMU’s 2010 roster includes three players from Brazil in 5-foot-11 sophomore left side Dani Branco, 5-foot-11 freshman Ellen Lemos and 5-foot-10 left side Ana Lopes.



Northwood Timberwolves
Head Coach: Tim Koth
7th Season (102-77)
2010 Preseason Pick: 6th  (North)
2009 Record:  (8-19, 6-10 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Northwood has a great tradition in volleyball, but last season was a difficult one for the Timberwolves. NU was 8-19 overall and 6-10 in the GLIAC a year ago. While the record is a tough one for the Timberwolves, it comes in one of the tougher NCAA Division II volleyball conferences in the nation. Northwood, however, is a team known for its competitive nature under head coach Tim Koth. Competing this season in the North Division, Northwood hopes the experience it gained last year will pay off as it regularly battles the likes of Ferris, Grand Valley, Northern and Saginaw Valley.

THE PLAYERS: Sladjana Mitrovic, a 6-foot-1 senior from Serbia, could be in store for a breakthrough season on the court. Mitrovic totaled 317 kills, 36 blocks (five solo blocks) for the Timberwolves. Another key returner is Laura Chapman, a senior, who had 749 assists and had 32 kills. She also served up 22 aces. Jolyn Timms, a senior from Adrian, is back in the lineup after posting 249 kills last season. Sara Skornia, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker from Bay City, is back after a 107-kill campaign in 2009.

THE COACH: Head coach Tim Koth enters his seventh season at Northwood and owns a record of 102-77 for the Timberwolves. Prior to his arrival at NU, Koth was head coach of the Quincy men’s and women’s volleyball programs for eight seasons.

OF INTEREST: In his first season as head coach at Northwood, Koth led the Timberwolves to a 21-10 overall record and a final national ranking of 18. That year, the team was ranked as high as 14th and started the season 12-1.



Ohio Dominican Panthers
Head Coach: Sandy Rowley
22nd Season (436-367)
2010 Preaseason Pick: 5th (South)
2009 Record:  (24-18)


OVERVIEW: The 2010 campaign marks the first for Ohio Dominican in the GLIAC, and that represents quite a challenge. Last season was a positive one for ODU, as the Panthers competed as an NAIA independent and compiled an impressive record of 24-18 in its final season prior to joining the GLIAC. This season, ODU welcomes back nine letterwinners from last season, including five returning starters. The team has added six newcomers who will fill out the roster and possibly compete for playing time on the court this season.

THE PLAYERS: Leading the way for Ohio Dominican this season could be Rachel Billing, a 5-foot-11 junior. Billing finished the 2009 season with 436 kills and 551 digs. Also look out for Summer Hale, an outside hitter/setter, and Shannon Nadler, a 6-foot-2 sophomore middle hitter. Hale had 282 kills and 426 assists while Nadler added 261 kills and 129 total blocks (44 solo blocks). Senior setter Elyse Mongillo had 580 assists last season. Stacy Rogg, a junior outside hitter, and Cassie Vome, a senior outside hitter, also bring solid numbers back to the floor for the Panthers. Rogg finished the 2009 season with 207 kills while Vome added 193. Kristy Birkemeier, who had 156 kills and 137 total blocks (21 solo blocks), is another player who had a strong 2009 campaign and could be called upon to contribute in 2010.

THE COACH: Sandy Rowley is entering her 22nd season as head coach of Ohio Dominican (436-367).

OF INTEREST: Rowley has been a member of the Panther athletic department for more than a quarter century. As the Panthers transition to the NCAA Division II, Rowley has taken on a new role within the ODU Athletic Department as Senior Women’s Administrator. As the SWA, Rowley oversees the Panther Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and other administrative duties.



Saginaw Valley State Cardinals
Head Coach: Will Stanton
8th Season (93-121)
2010 Preaseason Pick: 4th (North)
2009 Record:  (22-10, 12-4 GLIAC)

OVERVIEW: Saginaw Valley State enjoyed a banner season in 2009 as the Cardinals earned GLIAC co-champion status, compiled a record of 22-10 overall and a 12-4 mark in its division of the GLIAC – no small task considering competition from the likes of Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech. SVSU went on to win the GLIAC North Division and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Cardinals do have big shoes to fill, due to the graduation of key players, but SVSU has built a solid foundation it expects will carry on into the near future and through the long term.
THE PLAYERS: The Cardinals, coming off a strong 2009 season, hope to reload for 2010 in spite of the losses of some key players in the lineup. SVSU graduated Kait Harris, a setter who was the GLIAC “Player of the Year” and an All-GLIAC First Team performer, Jaclyn Carnago, who was an All-GLIAC Second Team competitor; and Allison Schlinkert, who was an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention student-athlete. Although some talented players have moved on, the Cardinals do have talent back this season. Annie Buxton, an outside hitter from Ontario, earned All-GLIAC First Team honors as a sophomore, and Jessica Treiber, who was an All-GLIAC Second Team player last season.
THE COACH: Will Stanton, the 2008 AVCA Midwest Region “Coach of the Year,” led the team to a record of 22-10 overall and 12-4 in the GLIAC in 2009.

OF INTEREST: Last season, Saginaw Valley State emerged on top in a hotly-contested battle for the GLIAC North Division title. The Cardinals finished first at 12-4, Northern and Grand Valley had matching records of 11-5 while Ferris and Michigan Tech finished 10-6.

Tiffin Dragons
Head Coach: Dana Cordova
1st Season
2010 Preseason Pick: 6th (South)
2009 Record:  (4-29, 0-16 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: A new era begins in volleyball for the Tiffin Dragons as Dana Cordova begins her first campaign as head coach of the program. Cordova takes over for T.J. Shouse, who resigned at the end of last season. Cordova will have some work to do as Tiffin comes off a tough season during which it finished with a record of 4-29 overall and 0-16 in the GLIAC. This season, the Dragons will try to add some talented newcomers to a solid group of leading returners for Cordova and her assistant, Maggie Peterson. Jessica Adams, a setter; Amanda Marquardt, a defensive specialist; Brittany Teaford, a middle hitter; and Brooke Bernabei, an outside hitter, are listed as seniors, while Danielle McQuade (DS/OH), McKenzie Wright (6-0 right side hitter) and Maureen Kurtz (5-11 middle hitter) hope to bring some size and ability to the attack.

THE PLAYERS: Brittany Teaford totaled a strong season with 287 kills and served up 25 aces. Jessica Adams finished with 942 assists and 81 kills and Brook Bernabei had 306 kills and 29 service aces. The roster of the Dragons has 7 varsity freshmen, four juniors and three sophomores entering the 2009 season. The coaching staff will work to get the most out of the returners and newcomers experience.

THE COACH: Dana Cordova is entering her first season as the head coach of the Tiffin University Dragons.

OF INTEREST: A native of Trinidad, Colo., Cordova was a standout athlete who garnered all-state recognition in both volleyball and basketball and was a four-time state qualifier in track. Cordova later attended Otero Junior College on a basketball scholarship before finishing her degree at McPherson College.


Wayne State Warriors
Head Coach: Phil Nickel
3rd Season (36-21)
2010 Preseason Pick: 3rd (South)
2009 Record:  (19-9, 8-8 GLIAC)


OVERVIEW: Wayne State is coming off of a strong 2009 campaign that included a third-place finish in the GLIAC’s South Division. At 19-9 last season, in a league as tough as the GLIAC, the Warriors hope they are poised to build on their success from a year ago and have that success translate into more positives in 2010. WSU has some experience back with seven letterwinners on the roster, but the Warriors also lost seven letterwinners. Coming into the program are six newcomers for head coach Phil Nickel, who is 36-21 in two seasons at Wayne State.

THE PLAYERS: Wayne State returns significant talent from last season’s squad led by Katarzyna Sak, a 6-foot middle blocker, who finished with 178 kills, 14 service aces, 50 digs and 81 total blocks (18 solo blocks). With losses of some talented players from the 2009 squad, the Warriors will need some younger, but talented players on the squad to emerge this season. Included in that group could be Madie Kent, a sophomore outside hitter from Grosse Pointe Woods (Mich.), who totaled 64 kills in 2009 as a freshman; Cydney Biessel, a sophomore setter, who last season set up teammates with 1,015 assists; and Maureen McDonald, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter who led the team with 335 digs to go along with 12 service aces.  

THE COACH: Phil Nickel enters his third campaign as the head coach of Wayne State. In four seasons as a head coach, he owns a career record of 70-64.

OF INTEREST: Coach Nickel has built a strong coaching background that includes significant Division I volleyball coaching experience having served as an assistant at Houston (2002-07), Illinois State (2000-01) and Wright State (1998-99).