Back in Bulldog country

Former Morley Stanwood standout Huntey finds a home with FSU volleyball

BIG RAPIDS — It’s good to be back home.

Those were the sentiments of Ferris State sophomore Alexis Huntey, who returned to Big Rapids this past spring after spending her freshman season as a member of Division I George Washington’s volleyball team.

SHOW OF HANDS: Ferris State’s Alexis Huntey (left) looks to block a teammate’s kill attempt during a recent practice. Huntey joined the FSU volleyball team in the spring after playing last year at George Washington University. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

Finding a place that felt like home, she said, wasn’t hard after growing up knowing the traditions of the Bulldogs’ volleyball program.

“I love it here,” she said. “I definitely think the school and this team is a better fit for me. It’s close to home and in the community I grew up in and near my family.”

Huntey is certainly a familiar name within the community and the Ferris State volleyball program. As a prep standout at Morley Stanwood High School, Huntey finished as the runner-up in Michigan’s Miss Volleyball voting in 2011 after garnering first team all-state honors four consecutive years. She led the Mohawks to 11 tournament championships, three-straight district and league titles along with a pair of regional crowns and a state championship in 2011.

After dominating the local volleyball landscape for four seasons, Huntey made the move to George Washington, located in Washington, DC, where she was faced with the challenge of being the team’s setter during her freshman season.

Huntey played in 18 matches and made 12 starts for George Washington in 2012 as the Colonials posted a 10-18 overall record along with a 7-7 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference. She tallied 300 assists with 89 digs, 54 kills, 29 blocks and eight service aces in her initial season.

But her heart led her back to the Big Rapids area, where she hopes to continue the recent success the FSU program has experienced, finishing toward the top of the conference standings over the past three seasons. Huntey has worked with the team all spring to prepare for the upcoming season, which begins on Sept. 6 in the Bulldog Invitational in Big Rapids.

“I spent all spring with them, which I think helped a lot heading into the preseason,” she said. “I know the system that they play in now, so I think that helped a ton.”

During her high school career, Morley-Stanwood posted a 142-22-2 mark with Huntey in the lineup. She claimed PrepVolleyball.com All-America Third Team recognition after totaling 930 kills, 748 digs and 106 aces as a prep senior. She slammed 30 kills in the school’s Michigan Class C State Championship match victory and ranks fourth among the state’s all-time leaders with 2,860 kills. Huntey is also fourth on the state’s single-season list with her 930 kills in her senior campaign.

After returning to Big Rapids, it didn’t take long for Huntey to begin fitting in with her new teammates, FSU coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm said.

“Alexis is a great fit for our program,” she said. “She came in here in January and melted right into the team. It felt like she’s always been here. She’s a great fit with the team is a person, both on and off the court. She really adds a lot to the team.

“We’re very excited to have her,” she added. “I love having a local player, but the most important thing, though, is how well she connects with the rest of the team. Her work ethic is amazing.”

After making the decision to transfer from George Washington after her freshman season, Huntey said there were other options for her to continue her playing career, but there was never any doubt she wanted to be a Bulldog.

“It was only Ferris really,” she said. “I knew that if I was going to leave and come home, that I was going to go to the school that I know and that I’m familiar with already. I knew some of the girls and had actually played with some of them, and I also knew Tia and (assistant coach) Jesse (Ortiz).”

Huntey, who is majoring in marketing at FSU, will look to continue the success the Ferris State program has experienced in recent years, which can be attributed in part to another member of the Huntey family.

Huntey’s older sister, Ashley, wrapped up her Ferris State career in 2011 as a three-time All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and GLIAC All-Academic Team honoree. She claimed American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II All-America Third Team recognition in her final season after leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional semifinals and a GLIAC North Division Championship.

While Brandel-Wilhelm is confident that Alexis has the potential to also be an impact player for the Bulldogs, she believes the sophomore’s confidence and ability to lead will allow her to blaze her own trail at Ferris State.

“The biggest thing she brings to the team is her self confidence,” she said. “She also has a ton of volleyball experience. She has a way of knowing what’s happening on the court because she’s been around the court so much.”

Brandel-Wilhelm sees Huntey fitting in as a perimeter hitter on either the left or right side, much like she did at Morley Stanwood, after setting at George Washington.

Huntey maintains that she’s willing to do whatever she can to help the Bulldogs be successful.

“Whatever they need me to do, I’m willing to do,” she said. “I’m pretty versatile, so I’m not really sure where I’ll be playing at. I definitely think I can help contribute to the team’s success.”

Leave a Reply