Beavers Continue Six-Match Road Swing With a Pair of NSIC Tilts
Thursday, September 30, 2004
BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Bemidji State University volleyball team (6-8; 2-2 NSIC) continues its current six-match road swing as it embarks on arguably two of the most important matches to this point of the 2004 season. The Beavers remain in a three-way deadlock for third place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Standings and it just so happens that the other two teams battling the Beavers for the third spot happen to be their opponents this weekend, Southwest Minnesota State University (9-4; 2-2 NSIC) and Wayne State University (9-9; 2-2 NSIC). A pair of victories this weekend would vault BSU into third all alone.

Quick Hitters

Monday, senior Heather Haugen took home NSIC Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career. The selection marks the second in as many weeks for the Beavers--the first time BSU has had back-to-back Players of the Week since the 2002 season.

In the last three matches, the Beavers have been serving specialists, averaging 3.0 aces per game. Heather Haugen (10) and Kristin Smith (9) have accounted for 19 of BSU’s 33 aces during that span.

Series History
BSU vs. Southwest Minnesota State
Friday’s meeting between the Beavers and the Mustangs marks the 71st time the teams have met. SMSU holds a 40-31 lead in the all-time series and is one of only two of the Beavers’ seven conference opponents that BSU have a losing record against. The last time these teams met, The Mustangs defeated BSU in three games (30-21, 30-26, 30-20).

BSU vs. Wayne State
When the Beavers and Wildcats take the to the court for Saturday’s matinee, it will be just the 11th meeting between the teams. WSC is the second of two NSIC opponents that BSU currently holds a losing record against. The Beavers are 2-9 versus WSC since the series began in 1995. From 11/13/99 to 10/17/03 Wayne State was dominant over BSU winning eight consecutive matches. That all came to an end 11/15/03 when the Beavers traveled to Wayne, Neb. defeating the Wildcats in three games (30-28, 30-28, 30-27).

About the Opponents
The Mustangs
SW-Minnesota State (9-4; 2-2 NSIC) comes into the weekend as a mirror of BSU. This season their only losses have come at the hands of Top-25 teams much like the Beavers. The team ranks in the top three in the NSIC in five statistical categories including posting the best kills-per-game average at 15.86. Individually Megan Wendorff and Erin Contons lead the way for the Mustangs offensively. They are No. 1 and 2 in the conference respectively. Wendorff also tops SMSU with a .289 hitting percentage (220k-77e-495att). Setter Heather Smith runs the Mustang offense and has collected 463 (10.77) assists in 2004. Defensively, the Mustangs have four players that have over 140 digs and are averaging better than 3.26 digs per game (Smith, Contons, Jen Otto, and Heidi Peterson) with Peterson leading the by averaging more than four digs per game.

The Wildcats
Wayne State comes into the weekend 9-9 overall and 2-2 in NSIC play. The team has lost four of its last five matches. Before hosting the Beavers, the Wildcats will battle the University of Minnesota-Crookston Friday evening in Wayne, Neb.

Junior Julie Jacobson headlines the WSC team coming into the weekend as the NSIC’s leader in aces (1.58 per game). She has already collected 783 assists this season as the team’s primary setter. Jacey Kuck Schwartz tops has been on the receiving end of more of those assists than any other Wildcat. She leads the team with 261 (3.68 Kills per game). Laura Dolezal is the team’s top defensive player averaging more than four digs per game.

Last Time Out for the Beavers
Bemidji State made it two in a row Tuesday gaining a three-game victory over the University of Wisconsin-Superior in a non-conference affair. Senior Heather Haugen led the offensive attack collecting 13 kills while posting two aces, three digs and four blocks. Fellow senior Kristin Smith tallied her first double-double of the season and 24th as Beaver, with 26 assists and a team-high 15 digs. She also recorded a team-high .500 hitting percentage on five kills on 10 attempts.

On the Road
The Beavers are coming off their first road win of the season now toting a 1-2 as the visitor. In just over one year under Kim Falkenhagen, BSU is 4-11 when on the road.

Aces are Wild
In the last three matches, the Beavers have racked up a total of 33 service aces averaging 3.00 aces per game--a total that would list them just out of the Top-10 in the NCAA if projected over the whole 33-match season. Together Heather Haugen and Kristin Smith are leading the barrage of aces. In the last three matches Haugen has totaled 10 while Smith has served up nine in her last two outings. The Beavers currently rank sixth in the conference averaging 1.62 aces per game.

Taking on the Nation’s Best
Eleven games into the new season, the Beavers have already played six Top-25 teams. Currently BSU is a 0-6 record when playing a team ranked in the AVCA polls. Since 2000 the Beavers have battled 16 ranked teams going winless in those games (0-16). BSU’s last win versus an Top-25 opponent was versus No. 16 South Dakota State University (9/10/99).

The First Game Tells it All
This season the Beavers have had some glaring tendencies especially when talking about the relationship between the outcome of the first game and the match results. Through 14 matches, when BSU wins the first game of the match the team has won six out of seven matches. When its opponent takes the first game the Beavers are 0-7.

Haugen Honored by the League
For the second consecutive week, a BSU volleyball player was honored as the NSIC’s Player of the Week. Senior middle hitter Heather Haugen was selected as this week’s Defensive Player of the Week for her three-match totals of 29 digs (2.64 d/g), 10 blocks (0.91), nine service aces. She also collected 22 kills. Haugen capped off the week with a 15-dig, seven-block, five-ace performance versus MSU-Moorhead. Following Brittney Burns with the league honor marks the first time the Beavers have had back-to-back conference Player of the Week selections since Kari Turk and Lisa Smith won consecutive awards during the 2002 season.

Head Coach Kim Falkenhagen -- 2nd Season (21-28 Career Record, .429)
Second-year head coach Kim Falkenhagen, who tallied the second-most wins (15) as a BSU rookie general in 2003, became the 11th head coach after a three-year stint as an assistant coach at West Texas A&M. At WTAMU, she helped direct one of the best Division II programs in the nation, taking the Buffaloes to the NCAA round of 16 in each of her three years on staff, including national quarterfinal appearances in 2000 and 2002.
Prior to her stint at West Texas A&M, Falkenhagen was varsity coach at Bay City Central High School in Bay City, Mich. from 1997-’99. There, she helped develop several Division I athletes including Michigan State defensive specialist Emily Engel.
Falkenhagen began her collegiate playing career at Weber State, playing with the Wildcats from 1992-’93 before transferring to Northern Michigan. There, Falkenhagen helped lead the Wildcats to the 1994 NCAA Division II national championship and a national runner-up finish in 1995.
She earned AVCA All-Great Lakes Region and All-GLIAC honors in 1995, and was named to regional All-Tournament teams in both 1994 and ‘95. She led NMU in total blocks (93) and block assists (82) in 1995.
Falkenhagen earned a bachelor of science degree from Northern Michigan in 1997 and a master of arts in interdisciplinary studies from West Texas A&M in 2002.
Falkenhagen is assisted by first-year graduate assistant Eric Carlson (Oakland (Mich.) ‘04), first-year student assistant Lisa Smith and second-year volunteer assistant Todd Frauenholtz (St. Cloud State ‘95).
−>First career collegiate win: 3-1 vs. Concordia-Moorhead, Aug. 29, 2003
−>First BSU sweep: 3-0 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, Aug. 30, 2003
−>First BSU road win: 3-1 vs. Concordia-Moorhead, Aug. 29, 2003
−>First BSU home win: 3-0 vs. Mayville State, Sept. 2, 2003
−>First BSU conference win: 3-0 vs. Minnesota-Crookston, Sept. 26, 2003

Expectations in 2004
After keeping up with a five-year trend of finishing in the middle of the pack in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), the 2004 Bemidji State Volleyball team is geared to get over that “hump.” Taking fifth in the 2003 NSIC standings, the highest since 1999, the Beavers went 15-17 overall and saw head coach Kim Falkenhagen lead her club to its most wins in four seasons. Consistency in the league has been the norm for BSU since 1999, finishing fourth, fifth, sixth on two occasions and seventh. But the glaring question is, how do Falkenhagen and her crew overcome that mediocrity?
“We have a lot of talent coming in and will build off the solid foundation that is already in place,” said Falkenhagen. “We have been getting better the last couple of seasons and expect to compete for those top three spots in the conference in 2004.”
Falkenhagen will have her hands full trying to replace the senior leadership from 2003. The fact that only three players graduated is a good thing; however the number does not begin to tell the true story. Nicole McDougall, Kristin Peterson and Lisa Smith played all four years and appeared in a combined 78 percent of the games. Between the three, they created 14 mentions in the BSU career record annals.
“We are not really replacing their talent because you can’t,” said Falkenhagen. “We are just filling their positions with eager athletes.”
Defense and serving was a strong suit last season. The 247.0 team blocks was the most since the 1999 club had 272.5 and the 87 solos was the highest output since 104 in 1995. BSU totaled nine matches of 10 or more blocks and nine matches with double-digits in service aces. Those figures were the best since the 1999 program recorded 13 matches of 10+ blocks and the 1997 team had 13 contests of 10+ service aces.
In conference action, the Beavers averaged 1.89 service aces per contest, good for third in NSIC rankings - BSU had just 1.17 per game in 2002 which was worst, statistically speaking. Also, 2003 saw BSU improve to 2.23 blocks per game which was up from 1.65 in 2002. Falkenhagen mentions that serving and blocking are two areas she emphasis to her squad.
“We did learn some completely different techniques for blocks and serves last season,” said Falkenhagen. “Those skills work better both with the style of our play and the style our girls need to be successful.”

What the Coaches Think in 2004
The 2004 Bemidji State volleyball squad was picked to finish fifth in the Preseason Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Volleyball Coaches Poll. The Beavers, who took fifth in the 2003 NSIC standings with a 7-9 mark, return six starters including 2004 NSIC Player to Watch senior Heather Haugen.
Just four points from the third spot and six from second-place, BSU received 48 total points, its highest mark in at least three seasons. BSU was tabbed seventh in 2003 and eighth in 2002 in the preseason voting.
Concordia-St. Paul, who advanced to the 2003 NCAA Division II National Championship and ranked No. 1 in the 2004 AVCA Preseason Poll, tallied 70 total points and seven first-place nods to get the number one league ranking. SW Minnesota State (54 points), MSU Moorhead (52) and Wayne State (52) fill the number two through four slots with the Dragons and Wildcats in a tie for third. Northern State (44), Minnesota-Crookston (42) and Winona State (30) round out the eight league institutions.

Turning the Corner
Last year, BSU rolled out to a 4-1 mark to begin the season. That fortune turned around several seasons of slow starts. In 2002, the Beavers opened 2-6, dropping their first four contests. They had an identical record in 2001 after eight matches and 2000 saw them lose seven straight and open 1-10.

Program History
Bemidji State volleyball began in 1969 and holds an all-time record of 603-574-6 (.512). The Beavers own one Northern Sun Conference Championship (the NSC merged with the NIC before the 1992 season) earned in 1988. Prior to that, BSU nailed down seven Minn-Kota crowns (1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978). Since becoming a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (formerly the Northern Sun Conference) in 1979, BSU is 132-174 (.431).

The BSU Gymnasium
In the 2003 home opener, 397 fans came to see BSU sweep Mayville State for its third straight 3-0 win. It was the largest attendance in the rally scoring era (2001). The two contests to open the 2002 campaign saw 592 in attendance -- the most in school history for back-to-back home matches. The 2003 opening match in Bemidji extended a streak of three seasons in which the lid-lifters have been over 300: 324 against St. Cloud State (9/6/02) and 375 vs. North Dakota (9/18/01).
The home court has treated BSU well as it maintained a 8-3 record in 2002, the best win percentage (.727) since 1999 when it had a .800 mark (12-3). Last season, Bemidji State was 7-4 (.636) including a six-match winning streak spanning 2002 and 2003. The five home wins without a loss to begin the season was the best start since the 1979 team went 6-0.
Ticket prices for home events are: $5 adults; $2 non-BSU students, alumni with ID; $1 children under 12; Free BSU students with ID. Tickets can be purchased at the gate the day of the event or by calling 218-755-3993.

2003 Season Recap
The Bemidji State volleyball squad had its most successful season since 1999 and handed rookie head coach Kim Falkenhagen the second-best win mark as a first-year coach. The Beavers, which won four out of their first five matches, finished with a 15-17 overall mark.. Also, BSU took fifth-place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 7-9 record.
BSU hung tough in several affairs including a five-game setback to No. 13 Concordia-St. Paul, Oct. 24. It was just the third five-game match for the nationally-ranked Golden Bears against NSIC opposition during the course of 2003. Later in the year, Falkenhagen ignited the Beavers to a season sweep of Northern State, the first since 1997. In the season-ending road-swing at SW Minnesota State and Wayne State (Neb.), BSU came away with a blanking of Wayne, Nov. 15 - it was the first road win in the series and first win to end the season since 1998.
Success at the BSU Gymnasium has been a constant for the Beavers most recently. Overall, they went 7-4, including a 5-3 NSIC mark last year. The 3-1 win over Minnesota State-Moorhead, Oct. 4 marked the sixth consecutive home win dating back to the 2002 season. BSU has won 11 NSIC home matches in the last two seasons - tied for the most during a two-year span.
The team turned around their fortunes in several categories including service aces and blocks. The Beavers averaged 1.89 service aces per contest, good for third in NSIC rankings - BSU had just 1.17 per game in 2002 which was worst statistically speaking. Also, 2003 saw BSU improve to 2.23 blocks per game which was up from 1.65 in 2002. Overall kills (1,561) and assists (1,365) were the highest output in five seasons. On the serve, BSU had nine matches with double-digits in aces, taking second to the 1997 program (13 contests of 10+ service aces) for the best serve stats in the past seven years.
Defensively speaking, the 247.0 team blocks was the most since the 1999 team had 272.5 and the 87 solos was the highest tally since it went for 104 in 1995. The club totaled nine matches of 10 or more blocks, the most since the 1999 program recorded 13 matches of 10+ blocks. Also, the 16.35 digs per game average was the best in four seasons - the 2000 team was slightly better at 16.39.
Junior Heather Haugen, Kristin Peterson and junior Kristin Smith were recognized on the 2003 All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Volleyball Team. All three players received attention on the honorable mention squad. The three honors ties the 1995, 1989 and 1988 clubs for the most BSU all-conference selections in a single season.
Also, Kristin Smith earned Verizon/CoSIDA First-Team All-District V College Division honors. It marked Smith’s second career Verizon award as she received All-District Third Team honors in 2002. She led five BSU players named on the 2003 NSIC All-Academic squad.
Junior Kristine Engman completed the season with 370 digs, the most since Peggy Hammel-Moran had 433 in 1999. That performance followed up 313 digs in 2002 as she became the first player to have back-to-back 300+ dig seasons since Beth Fischer-Virnig (1999-2000). Peterson capped the season with her 30th career double-double against Wayne State (11/15) and ended the year with 17, the most since Jill Anundson had 18 in 2000. Lisa Smith and Nicole McDougall earned their second career NSIC Offensive Player of the Week honors in October.

Schedule Notes
• All league teams will participate in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament for the first time in history. The No. 1 seed hosts the tournament with all eight teams slated to compete. The winner automatically qualifies for the NCAA Tournament, Nov. 18-20.

• The season-opening Northern Michigan Tournament (August 28-29) was a special one of sorts as it was the homecoming of coach Kim Falkenhagen. Falkenhagen, earned AVCA All-Great Lakes Region and All-GLIAC honors in 1995, and was named to regional All-Tournament teams in both 1994 and 1995 as a player.

• After 87 league meetings, UM-Duluth and Bemidji State will competed in a different setting in 2004. The Bulldogs, who ended 2004 with the No. 17 spot in the national rankings, will enter the North Central Conference for the 2004-05 season.

• A rare road swing through Missouri pits the Beavers against two clubs they have never faced, Missouri Southern and SW Baptist. MSC finished 17-13 and sixth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. SW Baptist went just 2-28 overall.

• BSU has to deal with the prospect of five and six-game road stretches at different points of the season. That five-game streak closes out the campaign leading up to the NSIC Tournament. The season-ending road games seems to be a recent trend. Last year, BSU went on the road for four of the final five affairs. Both 2001 and 2002 saw the Beavers end with three consecutive road games.

• In the CSTV / AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Poll (Aug. 10), four opponents were recognized nationally. Concordia-St. Paul (1), Northern Michigan (14) and Minnesota Duluth (17) were listed in the Top 25 while South Dakota received three points.