Veteran volleyball coach Melissa Ferris is now in her ninth season with the Rice volleyball program. The up and coming volleyball coach was offered the position shortly after the hiring of Genny Volpe as the program's head coach.
The decision to bring Ferris to South Main has proved to be fruitful as the Owls have now been to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back season and three times in the past six years (2004, 2008, and 2009) after no previous post-season experience.
Not only is her on-court insight beneficial to the Owl volleyball program, but Ferris is considered as one of the top recruiters in the nation as well. The Owls' recruiting class of 2006 received highest honorable mention from PrepVolleyball.com and in 2007 PrepVolleyball.com honored Caroline Gill with high school All-America honors, one just 150 high school seniors nationwide to be recognized. Rice's 2009 freshman, Nancy Cole, was rated #62 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com, while Megan Murphy another freshman was named to the prestigious LoneStar Volleyball All-Texas team.
During the 2009 season, the Owls captured their first-ever conference championship when they defeated Tulsa 3-2 in the title game to earn Conference USA's NCAA automatic bid. Rice also sported a final RPI ranking of 37, its highest ever, out of 330 institutions, to lead C-USA.
In 2008, the Owls were awarded an NCAA at-large bid after finishing third in C-USA with a 12-4 record, their highest finish since joining the league in 2005.
In her inaugural season as a Rice assistant, Ferris helped lead the Owls to a 25-5 record and and that inaugural appearance in the NCAA tournament. Ferris' coaching helped the Owls attain a team hitting percentage of .277 for the season, an all-time team record at Rice and the best in the WAC in 2004. Rice also led the WAC in kills, assists, and opponent hitting percentage and excelled off the court as well, winning the American Volleyball Coaches Association's Team Academic Award.
Before joining the Rice volleyball staff, Ferris spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Wyoming. The Cowgirls produced a 35-27 record during Ferris' two-year tenure, advancing to the Mountain West Conference tournament in both seasons.
Prior to joining the coaching staff at Wyoming, Ferris spent four years at Texas State. With the Bobcats, she was responsible for the day-to-day activities of the volleyball program, including recruiting, preparing scouting reports and coordinating team practices. The Bobcats were 87-41 during her four years in San Marcos.
A 1996 graduate of the University of Arizona, Ferris served as a volunteer assistant coach at her alma mater in 1998 while coaching the Zona Volleyball Club. A four-year letterwinner at Arizona, she finished her career with 1,273 kills, a mark that still ranks in the top five on the Wildcats all-time list. She also had 88 solo blocks, sixth all-time at Arizona. During Ferris' playing days at Arizona, the Wildcats made it to the Sweet Sixteen twice.
Ferris was named to the Pac-10 Conference All-decade team in 1998, and was inducted into the Pinecrest High School Hall of Fame in 2000. The North Carolina native was a member of the United States Olympic Festival team that captured the silver medal in 1993. She also played professionally in Switzerland in 1996 and for the National Volleyball Association team in 1996-97.
Ferris holds a bachelor's degree in family studies from the University of Arizona.