This year’s Bemidji State University volleyball team is one of the younger squads you’ll see in the ultra-competitive NSIC. With six freshmen and six sophomores on a 14-player roster, there are only two upperclassmen: senior captain Bethany Thompson (OH, Owatonna, Minn.) and junior Halee Staskivige (DS, Northwood, N.D.) Though she is in her third year at BSU, Staskivige is only playing in her second season on the squad.
After spending the 2011 season supporting the team from the sidelines in a redshirt year, the Beavers’ 2010 most improved player has returned to the court to make an impact. Staskivige enters this weekend fourth on Bemidji State in digs with 53 and has also been solid from behind the service line with nine aces. Her 0.27 aces per set are second on the team.
Staskivige appeared in just two matches as a freshman, but has gotten on the court in the team’s first 14 matches in 2012. We took a moment to catch up with Staskivige, who was preparing for a four-match BSU homestand.
How did you get into playing volleyball and when did you know you could take your playing career beyond high school?
“I wasn’t really sure when I knew I could take it beyond high school, but I definitely thought about it a little in my senior year. My mom encouraged me and sister played volleyball and didn’t go on to play in college, but definitely wanted to. They both helped push me and motivated me to go into it.”
Being from North Dakota, what made you choose BSU? Do any of your teammates ever give you a hard time for not being from Minnesota?
“I don’t hear from my teammates so much, but definitely around campus I get a little grief for being from North Dakota. I came to BSU because it’s beautiful and it’s only a couple hours away from home. My parents could come visit me or I could go visit them. It’s just a nice place to be.”
Can you describe what this season has been like for you, finally being able to play on a regular basis after sitting out for a season and not getting much time as a freshman?
“It’s definitely a big step up. I was definitely excited to start playing again and be on the court. There’s definitely more competition with the freshmen that came in and I have to continue to work hard to stay on the court.”
Though you are not a senior yet and you weren’t able to play last season, do you feel like you have to be a leader on such a young team?
“Yeah, a little bit. Bethany Thompson is good with that and has taken the lead role, but I just try to be positive and be the best leader I can be.”
What do you think is your biggest asset on the court?
“I just try to give a good work ethic. I try to put my heart into it and do everything I can to not let that ball hit the floor.”
What gives you the best feeling during a volleyball match: getting a kill, a dig, or an ace?
“Definitely a dig and then having one of your middles slam it down. That’s exciting. I just love watching someone like Rachel Craig put it down the line.”
You are one of the team leaders in aces. Can you describe what you go through to work on your serve in practice?
“Every day in practice I just envision what it’s like during a game. I take a look at my coach, even in practice, and pretend he’s giving me a zone and I just try and it hit.”
You also played basketball in high school. If you couldn’t play volleyball or basketball, what sport would you most like to try and why?
“Maybe soccer because I live with a soccer girl (Bronwyn Boyd, Jr., M, Bemidji, Minn.) and it’s just really interesting. It seems like a really athletic sport where you have to be very quick.”
What are you going to school for?
“I’m going to school for a business marketing degree and I just started to take on a second major in digital foundations. I think I’m going to try to get a job in the advertising or graphic design field. That’s what I’d prefer to do and I’m really excited to start that digital foundations major.”
You spend a lot of time balancing school and volleyball. What do you like to do in your free time?
“If there is any free time, I like to relax and hang out with friends or maybe go home to North Dakota once in awhile to ride a horse or something.”
What are your personal goals for the rest of the year moving forward?
“School, mostly. I want to get good grades, get a job, and start a career strong.”