Another exciting year of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) volleyball is right around corner as teams prepare to get back into their respective gyms with eyes set toward the 2016 GLIAC Volleyball Championship. The two-time defending conference champion Ferris State Bulldogs are favored in the GLIAC North Division Preseason Coaches' Poll, while the Findlay Oilers have been selected to rise above the competition in the South Division. Ferris State returns fourth-year starting setter and All-American Stephanie Sikorski orchestrating head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm's offense along with 11 other letterwinners a year after the Bulldogs amassed a 33-3 overall record. Findlay has their sights set on a third straight GLIAC South title as the Oilers return three players who have earned All-America honors at some point in their career, highlighted by two-time AVCA All-American senior Hannah Tong.
In the North Division, GLIAC Blocker of the Year senior Erin Holsinger returns to lead the Hillsdale Chargers who ranked second in divisional preseason balloting with a young Grand Valley State squad close behind in the No. 3 position paced by reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year middle blocker Staci Brower. Saginaw Valley was voted fourth in the North Division as the Cardinals return a pair of First Team All-GLIAC performers in Kelly Vellucci and Kaylee Schmitt, while No. 5 Northern Michigan welcomes back a trio of junior key contributors in Kayla Chosa, Jami Hogeboom and AVCA honorable mention All-American Madison Whitehead. The Michigan Tech Huskies comes in at No. 6 in the North Division with seniors Rachel Pohlod and Aubrey Ficek and junior Lauren Emmert supplying the leadership for Matt Jennings’ program who returns over 90 percent of its offense from a year ago. Rounding out the North Division rankings are Northwood in seventh and Lake Superior State in eighth. The Timberwolves begin a new era in Midland with a new coaching staff and 11 student-athletes making their debut in 2016 with the Lakers bringing back junior Brooke Williams and Jena Tulgestke.
Ashland arrives at No. 2 in the South Division with senior All-American outside hitter Alli Cudworth focused on chasing down the Oilers in the divisional race. Wayne State enters third in the division returning 12 letterwinners and five starters from last season including a pair of All-GLIAC performers in Hannah Moore and Emily Norscia. Seniors Tory Thompson and Jackie Oestreich will lead the charge for No. 4 Ohio Dominican under first-year head coach Jennifer Fekpe, while Tiffin was selected fifth and feature an experienced roster made-up of eight seniors under seventh-year head coach Dana Cordova. Concluding the South Division are Lake Erie in sixth and Walsh in seventh as the Storm seek to build off of some late-season momentum from a year ago, while the Cavaliers returns a strong core of 10 letterwinners from a year ago.
The new season begins on Thursday, September 1st with the first serve of league action scheduled for Friday, September 16th. The 2016 GLIAC Volleyball Tournament will start on Tuesday, November 16th with quarterfinal action and conclude with semifinal and championship matches on November 19th and 20th at the highest remaining seed.