Duluth Volleyball Classic Tournament Schedule:
No. 19 Ferris State • Sept. 7 • 5 p.m.
Erskine • Sept. 8 • 9 a.m.
Shippensburg • Sept. 8 • 5 p.m.
This weekend, the Bemidji State volleyball team will head to Duluth, Minn. to complete its 2012 non-conference schedule with three matches. In their first match and only match on Friday, the Beavers will face 19th-ranked Ferris State. BSU’s final NSIC tune-ups will both come on Saturday when it faces Erskine and Shippensburg. Bemidji State will be facing each of its opponents this weekend for the first time.
Chadwick’s squad will need better results this year in Duluth than it had in 2011 if it wants to halt its losing skid. The Beavers went 0-4 at last year’s University of Minnesota Duluth Tournament and lost to UMD on the road in NSIC play less than two weeks later.
Last Time Out
After winning its season-opening match for the 27th time in 44 seasons, BSU proceeded to drop its final three matches in its first weekend of play. The Beavers opened their season at the Pittsburg State Gorilla Classic in Kansas, winning in consecutive sets in their first-ever match against Northwest Oklahoma State. Bemidji State was led by 13 kills from Bethany Thompson and 24 assists from Courtney Volkmann.
After losing to AVCA Preseason Poll vote-getter Emporia State 3-0 in its second match of the day, BSU opened Day 2 of play by falling short in what was arguably its most well-played match of the weekend against the host Gorillas. In the match, a 3-0 decision, Volkmann set a new career high in assists with 33 by spreading the offense around and allowing Thompson, Kelsi Crawford, and Kelly Niles to finish with double-digit kills. Libero Elissa Christensen had her highest dig total of the weekend with 12. The Beavers later dropped to 1-3, losing to Rockhurst by a similar 3-0 score.
Each team that the Beavers lost to finished the weekend with a 4-0 record.
Through its four matches, Bemidji State went 1-3, breaking up a string a string of four consecutive 3-1 starts. The last time the Beavers, picked to finish 13th in the NSIC this season, lost three of their first four contests was in 2006. BSU followed that beginning to the season by winning three out of its next five matches.
Running the Offense
One of the Beavers’ concerns entering the season was replacing graduated setter Jessi-BethMcCannell. Sophomore Courtney Volkmann got of to a positive start in her first weekend with the job. Volkmann posted her first career double-double against Pittsburg State with a career-high 33 assists and 10 digs. Volkmann
was also strong behind the service line, leading the team with five aces.
Spreading it Out
Part of Courtney Volkmann’s success in the first week came from the ability to spread out the offense. Eleven of the team’s 13 players that saw action in the first weekend of play recorded at least one kill. Through 2012’s first 12 sets, the Beavers have four players with 20 or more kills: Bethany Thompson (43), Kelsi Crawford (27), Kelly Niles (26), and Rachel Craig.
More Help in the Middle
Sophomore Rachel Craig is coming off an impressive 2011 campaign where she earned BSU’s Newcomer of the Year Award, but she was listed as the team’s only middle hitter in Week 1. Freshman Chelsea injured sat out the Gorilla Classic and may make her collegiate debut this weekend to aid the Beavers’ front court.
According the AVCA’s current Division II volleyball rankings, the Beavers will face six ranked teams. After playing 19th-ranked Ferris State on Friday, BSU will face five top 15-ranked NSIC opponents, not including Minnesota State, Moorhead, who received votes in the poll.
Out and About
Bemidji State’s 2012 schedule doesn’t feature much travel and the Beavers took care of a big chunk it last week. BSU made its longest trip of the season to Pittsburg, Kan. and played four of its eight out-of-state matches. The Beavers next leave Minnesota to open NSIC play at Minot State and U-Mary, both in North Dakota.
A Young Squad...
The Beavers entered the season with only two upperclassmen: Bethany Thompson, the lone senior and team captain, and Halee Staskivige, who sat out last season. The rest of the 14-player roster consists of six freshmen and six sophomores. The team lost six 2011 letterwinners.
...But an Experienced Squad
Though the team only has one senior and one junior, the Beavers have brought back several players who played key roles on the team in 2011. Six members of the current team started at least one of last season’s 28 matches: Bethany Thompson (28), Rachel Craig (28), Kelsi Crawford (17), Kelly Niles (17, Courtney Volkmann (11) and Elissa Christensen (1). Overall, the team has returned eight letterwinners.
Trying Something New
Former Ball State (Division I) captain and Northwerstern State graduate assistant Elaina Kakatolis is joins the team as the program’s first full-time assistant coach. Graduate assistant coach and former Beaver Nicole Solum returns for a second season.