BSU Returns to Bemidji to Host Minnesota-Crookston
Monday, October 11, 2004
BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Bemidji State University volleyball team (6-13; 2-5 NSIC) returns to Bemidji after more than two weeks of playing on the road to host the University of Minnesota-Crookston (8-14, 2-5 NSIC) in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference battle. Just as any match versus an NSIC opponent, this week’s match is important, but with the Beavers tied with UMC for fifth place in the conference standings, there is added pressure. BSU is the home team in the match, but due to the renovation to the BSU Gym, the contest has been moved to the Bemidji High School Gym, where both teams will be unfamiliar territory.

Quick Hitters
Every time she steps on the court, senior Heather Haugen makes another stride towards becoming one of the greatest volleyball players in BSU history. She currently finds herself in the Top-10 at BSU in three statistical categories (kills, total attempts and solo blocks) and enters the week just 45 kills shy of becoming the sixth player in BSU history to record 1,000 kills in a career.

With 30 digs in the Beavers’ previous three matches, senior outside hitter Kristine Engman moved into the Top-10 at BSU in career digs. She is now in ninth place with 978 career defensive saves.

Series History
BSU vs. Minnesota-Crookston
Tuesday’s meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Beavers marks the 18th time the teams have met on the court. From the beginning of the series in 1994, BSU has owned UMC rattling off wins in the first 11 matches of the series. Since 2001 however, Minnesota-Crookston has stolen three of six wins including a 3-1 (30-26, 28-30, 30-24, 30-12) a meeting just a week ago in Crookston, Minn. (10/5/04).

About the Opponents
The Golden Eagles
The University of Minnesota-Crookston enters the week toting a 9-13 overall record while the team is 2-5 in NSIC play. UMC corrected a bit of a losing streak last weekend when it traveled to Austin, Texas to compete in the St. Edward’s/Powerade Volleyball Classic. The team defeated Bentley College (Mass.) 3-1 and the host St. Edwards 3-2 before falling to University of the Incarnate Word (Texas) 3-2. Prior to the tournament UMC had lost nine of its last 11 matches.

The team is headlined by junior Joan Ebnet. The 2003 All-NSIC performer currently ranks in the Top-10 of three NSIC statistical categories while leading Golden Eagles averaging 4.40 digs (4th in NSIC), 0.48 service aces (4th in NSIC) and 3.58 kills per game (7th in NSIC). Senior setter Jamie Wolff runs the offense posting a 11.22 assists per game average while sophomore middle hitter Erin Flynn tops the team in total blocks racking up 10 solo blocks and 33 block assists for a total of 43.

Last Time Out for the Beavers
Bemidji State was swept (30-24, 30-25, 30-21) by the University of South Dakota in non-conference play Friday afternoon. The loss marked the fifth consecutive defeat for BSU,-- the longest such streak since the Beavers lost five straight in Oct. of 2002.
Freshman Brittney Burns lead the team with 13 kills and a .270 hitting percentage (14k-3e-29att) In addition she collected eight digs and a service ace in the match.

Regional Rankings
In the most recent AVCA NCAA Division II Regional Rankings the Beavers are locked in a three-way tie for 10th place. The Top-10 ranking in the region is the first for the Beavers since the final North Central Regional ranking of the 1999 season When BSU sat in sixth. Bemidji State is one of five NSIC schools to be ranked in the poll including No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul. With the top eight teams in the region advancing to the North Central regional tournament, the remaining 12 matches on the Beavers’ slate have a renewed meaning and with eight of those matches versus teams within the region and four of them versus teams that are ranked higher in the poll, BSU has plenty of opportunities to make a charge for the Regional Tournament for the first time in school history.

Digs Galore
Freshman Alicia Beaman has compiled 182 defensive saves this season to rank second on the team. Last week versus Minnesota-Crookston she set a personal and season team-high with 28 digs.

Taking on the Nation’s Best
Sixteen matches into the 2004 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 comparing the relationship between the outcome of the first game and the match results. Through 19 matches, when BSU wins the first game of the match the team has won six out of seven matches. When their opponent takes the first game the Beavers are 0-13.

Head Coach Kim Falkenhagen -- 2nd Season (21-30 Career Record, .412)
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.
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