Bemidji State opens the 2014 campaign in Michigan
The Bemidji State Univerisity volleyball team begins its 2014 season in the Keweenaw Classic Sept. 5-6 with four non-conference matches against Lake Superior State, Michigan Technological University, University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Northern Michigan University.
Scouting the Beavers
Bemidji State has plenty of reasons to be optimistic going into the 2014 campain. Fifth-year head coach Wayne Chadwick has his most experienced squad returning as eight upperclassmen and two sophomore that started every match last season are all back.
The 2014 squad, which was picked 15th in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, has the benefit of of returning all its leaders in key offensive and defensive categories from 2013. Senior Courtney Volkmann (S, Wadena, Minn.) BSU’s NSIC Player to Watch leads the group of returners, after leading the Beavers in assists (879) and service aces (27) in 2013. In addition to Volkmann, sophomore Jessica Yost (OH, Bemidji, Minn.) paced the squad in kills with 341, while senior Rachel Craig (MB, Wadena, Minn.) was BSU’s most accurate hitter (.199) in 2013. Defensively, juniors Kayla DeJong (DS, Jefferson, Wis.) and Chelsea Frison (MB, Whitewater, Wis.) led the squad in digs (407) and block (71), respectively.
Scouting the Opponents
Lake Superior State: The Lakers enter their second season under head coach Jennifer Constantino. In Constantino’s first season at the helm, the Lakers went 4-21 overall and 2-16 in conference play. LSS will return four starters and libero Meghan Drobish. Drobish, the team’s lone senior, ranked fifth in the GLIAC with an average of 4.51 digs per set in 2013.
The series history between BSU and LSS has been relatively even over the years. Lake Superior State holds a slight 5-4 edge over the Beavers, but Bemidji State has taken the last two matches including one last season, 3-0.
Michigan Tech: MTU looks to continue its improvement under third-year head coach Matt Jennings. Last season the Huskies went 10-20 overall and 6-12 in conference play. On the court, Michigan Tech will be led by junior Sylvie Rokosh who has recorded over 250 kills in each of her first two seasons and finished second on the team with 39 blocks in 2013.
Michigan Tech has won five of the six all-time meetings versus Bemidji State, including a 3-0 win last season. BSU’s lone win versus MTU came Sept. 14, 2002 in five sets.
Wisconsin Parkside: UWP is coming off an 18-13 record in 2013. The Rangers figure to be led by sophomore setter Lauren Hickson, who, as a true freshman, posted the eighth most assists in a season in program history (881) a year ago.
Bemidji State has held the edge over the Rangers in their brief series history. BSU holds a 4-1 advantage all-time over UWP. The last meeting occured during the 1998 season in which the Beavers came out victorious.
Northern Michigan: Despite finishing with 23-10 overall record in 2013, Northern Michigan may have some growing pains as it tries to replace four all-conference players from a year ago. Junior libero Alex Berger is a player to watch for the Wildcats as she led the team with 449 digs and was second on the team with 94 assists last season.
Bemidji State and Northern Michigan have had eight all-time meetings with the first coming during the 1980 season. NMU has come out victorious in all eight meetings with BSU including a 3-0 win last season.
The NSIC Volleyball coaches conducted their annual preseason poll and the Beavers were slotted to finish 15th in the very competitive NSIC. The coaches’ tabbed Courtney Volkmann as BSU’s player to watch.
BSU’s schedule has always been a difficult regular season and that trend will continue in 2014. Bemidji State will have 10 of its 28 matches against teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll.
The Beavers will open the season with eight straight non-conference matches and they have held their own in such matches under the current regime. During Chadwick’s tenure, BSU is 15-16 in non-conference matches.
Last season Courtney Volkmann entered the Top 10 in BSU history with 1,792 assists. Volkmann is just 14 assists shy of tying former teammate Jessi Beth McCannell with 1,806 assists for ninth on the all-time list.
Head Coach Wayne Chadwick needs three more wins to move in a tie with George Stowe for the fifth-most wins by a coach in BSU volleyball history. Chadwick (28 wins) also needs just eight wins to move into sole possession of third place on BSU’s all-time wins list.
Been there done that
During head coach Wayne Chadwick’s tenure at BSU there hasn’t been a wealth of senior leadership. In fact, BSU has four seniors this season and that is more than the previous three seasons combined (three).
Bemidji State has complied a record of 27-18 in season opening matches in its history. Chadwick’s mark in season openers is 2-2.
Home away from home
This weekend the Beavers will face four schools from outside the Minnesota border, which may spell good things for BSU, as all six of its victories came against teams that reside outside the Gopher state a year ago.
For more information on the Bemidji State volleyball program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BemidjiStateVB), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).