Melissa Ferris is now in her 11th season (2014) with the Rice volleyball program. She was promoted to Associate Head Coach on June 20, 2014. Ferris has previously been hired as an assistant coach shortly after the hiring of Genny Volpe as the program's head coach in 2004. She works with Rice's outside hitters and serves as recruiting coordinator.
The decision to bring Ferris to South Main has proved to be fruitful as the Owls have been to the NCAA Tournament three times since her arrival, after no appearances in the program's first 30 years.
While at Rice, she has helped an outside hitter to an All-C-USA selection nine times, and helped three of those players to All-American honors.
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 2005 was ranked 29th in the nation, in addition to the 2006, 2011, 2012, and 2013 classes, which received the highest honorable mention from PrepVolleyball.com.
In 2007 PrepVolleyball.com honored Caroline Gill with high school All-America honors, one just 150 high school seniors nationwide to be recognized. Nancy Cole, was rated #62 in the country by PrepVolleyball before coming to Rice, where she became the program's first three-time All-American. Megan Murphy, was named to the prestigious LoneStar Volleyball All-Texas team, before coming to Rice and earning C-USA Setter of the Year Honors.
No stranger to winning ways, Ferris has been a part of 11 winning seasons at Rice, Wyoming and Texas State. As a coach, her programs have gone 320-207 (.607) and been to four NCAA Tournaments.
She has coached the squads at Rice and Texas State to their highest single-season winning percentage in school history, and helped Wyoming to their best single-season win percentage in 11 years.
Ferris By The Numbers:
Win percentage for the programs at Rice, Wyoming and Texas State during her tenures
Program wins during her stops as an assistant coach
Outside Hitter All-Conference Selections (C-USA, WAC and MWC)
Nationally-Ranked or Highest Honorable Mention Recruiting Classes (PrepVolleyball.com)
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.
In her inaugural season as a Rice assistant, 2004, 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, under current Baylor head coach, Jim Barnes. Ferris helped two outside hitters, Michele Rauter and Sara Maytorena, to First Team All-Mountain West selections in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The Cowgirls won 20 games in 2002, posting the program's first 20-win season since 1989. In all, the Cowgirls produced a 35-27 record during Ferris' two-year tenure.
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.