FSU splits on first day of invite

Bulldogs take down Alderson-Broaddus before falling to Mercyhurst

BIG RAPIDS — There were a few new faces with different roles, but the start of the 2012 season for the Ferris State volleyball team felt a lot like 2011.

The Bulldogs opened their season on Friday during the nine-team Ferris State Invitational with a 3-0 win over Alderson-Broaddus, 25-11, 25-17, 25-15. FSU dropped its second contest of the day against Mercyhurst (Pa.), 3-2 in a five-set thriller, 25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 10-25 and 15-7.

The Bulldogs entered the tournament and season with anticipation higher than it has been in years, ranked No. 14 in the country and picked to win the GLIAC in the preseason coaches poll.

GOING UP: Ferris State’s Aly Brecht goes up for a kill on Friday against Alderson-Broaddust. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

The new expectations didn’t hinder the Bulldogs’ chemistry on the court, junior defensive specialist Brandie Merren said.

“I thought we played together as a team and we weren’t letting things rattle us,” she said following the win over Alderson-Broaddus. “We stayed pretty composed and kept moving on to the next point. Our goal is to have a lot of talking going on when we’re on the court, which helped keeps us relaxed out there.”

Merren is one of a handful of players that is expected to have an increased role for FSU this season. She finished the first contest with a team-high 10 digs to go with five assists.

“I’m definitely honored to have this position,” Merren said. “I feel like it’s been a pretty easy transition. From the time that two-a-days have started, there really haven’t been any obstacles.”

In the win over Alderson-Broaddus, FSU was led by Anne Sutton with 14 kills, while Aly Brecht and Courtney Rehm each had 10. Senior Samantha Fordyce led the way with 31 assists. The Bulldogs had a .376 attack percentage in the win over the Battlers.

FSU appeared to be in control against Alderson-Broaddus from the outset, taking an 11-3 lead after a kill by Brecht. A kill by Rehm increased the lead to 21-8 and put FSU in control

Rehm said communication between hitters was good for the first game of the season.

“We have a new lineup of hitters and I think we kept our composure,” she said following the win over the Battlers. “We didn’t let anything get us down.”

The Battlers put up a fight in the second and third games, trailing 9-8 early. A run by the Bulldogs brought the lead back up to 17-11 after a kill by Angie Kent.

The final game of the match featured six ties and three lead changes before FSU gained control late in the match. Fordyce set up Sutton for a kill that made it 13-9. A kill by Rehm resulted in a 25-15 victory for the Bulldogs.

“Our assistant coach Jesse (Ortiz) said that we played smart and kept the ball in where we were supposed to,” Rehm said.

Against Mercyhurst, the Bulldogs were led by Sutton with 12 kills and Brecht with 11. Fordyce handed out 37 assists while Merren finished with 18 digs.

The Bulldogs weren’t as efficient offensively in the second match of the evening, accumulating an attack percentage of just .192.

The invitational continues on Saturday when the Bulldogs take on West Virginia State at 1 p.m. before wrapping up tourney play against Clarion (Pa.) in a 5 p.m. encounter.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from the Ferris State Invitational.

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