BEMIDJI, Minn. - [complete 2006 schedule] Nine 2005 NCAA Division II Tournament participants, a season-opening road trip to Texas and a new NSIC Challenge format highlight the 2006 Bemidji State University volleyball schedule, recently announced by head coach Kim Falkenhagen.
"Our schedule has been pretty tough in recent years and the upcoming season will be no different since our region has so many top-level teams," commented Falkenhagen. "But this year I tried to break it up a little by scheduling some travel in to play some teams we may have not played before. Hopefully that will give us a nice variety."
BSU breaks the seal on its 37th season of collegiate volleyball competition August 25-26 when it travels to the Lone Star State for a four-game set at West Texas A&M University's volleyball classic. The match-up between the Beavers and West Texas A&M marks just the second meeting between the teams as BSU attempts to even the all-time series with a win. In addition to the host, BSU will be up against Dallas Baptist University, New Mexico Highlands University and NCAA Tournament participant Harding University--each a first-time opponent of the Beavers.
"I am really excited about making the trip back to West Texas A&M," said Falkenhagen of the Grapevinewoods.com Classic. Falkenhagen served as the Lady Buffs' assistant coach from 2000-2002 and left the school to take over the program at Bemidji State. "I think it should be a lot of fun especially to play against the coach and program that I used to work with."
With that said, she thinks the tournament will also provide some challenges.
"There will be a good mix of teams down there," Said Falkenhagen. "There will some teams that we can compete with and some other teams that we will actually grow and improve from playing." She added, "A big trip to start the season is a great way to get things underway. We do a lot of team building activities and because these matches are non-conference, it is a good way to try to get everybody in, evaluate them and experiment with some things."
After a tournament at Concordia College-Moorhead with opponents to be named at a later date, the Beavers jump right into Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action at the first of two NSIC Challenges.
Due to the shortening of the season to accommodate the NCAA Division II Fall Sports Festival, an Olympic-style championship for all NCAA Division II fall sports in Pensacola, Fla., and to eliminate some travel time and expense, the NSIC has incorporated to "challenge' weekends into the conference slate. Each weekend every team in the ever team in the league will travel to a site and get three league matches in. The first challenge will be hosted by Southwest Minnesota State University September 22-23. BSU is slated to battle Concordia University-St. Paul, Winona State University and NSIC newcomer Upper Iowa. Later in the season (Oct. 6-7) the Beavers will travel to Moorhead, Minn. to compete against the same three teams in challenge No. 2.
The NSIC Challenge format replaces the North Central Regional Crossover.
September 12, the Beavers return to the friendly confines of the BSU Gymnasium to host St. Cloud State University in the team's 2006 home opener. The non-conference tilt sparks a four-game homestand--the longest of the year--in which BSU will face Wayne State College and Southwest Minnesota State and concludes with a non-conference tilt versus the University of North Dakota.
The Beavers will then make the trip Bismarck, N.D. to take on the University of Mary for the first time as NSIC counterparts September 22 battling Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. the following afternoon. BSU then continues its travels heading west to battle Minnesota-Crookston (Sept. 26) before returning home to face MSU-Moorhead (Sept. 29) marking the midway point of the conference season.
The Beavers will take a hiatus from league competition as September transitions to October traveling to neighboring North Dakota to battle the UND Fighting Sioux (Sept. 30) an hosting perennial national power Minnesota Duluth (Sept. 30) for the first time since UMD left the NSIC for the North Central Conference.
The Beavers will then make a second trip through the NSIC
before wrapping up the 2006 regular season with a trip to
MSU-Moorhead (Oct. 27).
"Our conference season will be a challenge once again," said Falkenhagen. "Concordia-St. Paul is a very mature team returning a lot of upperclassmen. Wayne State and Northern State are always tough and we are one of the younger programs again." She added, "It will be interesting to see what will happen within conference play."
For the third consecutive year the regular season will be capped off with the NSIC Volleyball Tournament. But due to the league's expansion to 10 teams, for the first time, not every team will make the tournament field. Only eight teams will be seeded in the event adding extra meaning to the regular season and the final conference standings.
The NSIC Tournament champion will gain an automatic berth into the NCAA North Central Regional Tournament.
In all BSU's season stands at 31 matches with 22 taking place away from the BSU Gymnasium. The team's nine home tilts stand as its fewest since the BSU played a portion of its season a the Bemidji High School due to the floor renovation project in the BSU Gymnasium.
Bemidji State posted a 3-31 record in 2005 and finished eighth in the conference standings. The team returns stands to return six players including four starters.