Bemidji State tabbed ninth; Burns named 'Player to Watch'
Thursday, August 3, 2006

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Bemidji State University volleyball team has been picked to finish ninth in the 2006 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll, announced recently by the league office. The Beavers, who finished eighth in the NSIC in 2005 with an overall record of 3-31, return six players from last years' roster including junior outside hitter Brittney Burns (LeSueur, Minn.) who was named as a 2006 NSIC Player to Watch in the same poll.

A two-year starter for the Beavers, Burns returns as the team’s top hitter. Last fall Burns totaled 274 kills (2.36 k/g) and hit for an average of .127. She led the team in service aces with 27 and her 43 total blocks (0.23 b/g) ranked fouth among her teammates. During her short career, Burns has amassed 620 kills putting her on track to become BSU’s seventh member of the 1,000-kills club before completing her eligibility.

Concordia University-St. Paul's Jessica Lucia took home the 2006 NSIC Preseason Player of the Year honor after a junior campaign in which she was named First-Team All-American by both Daktronics and the AVCA. The 2005 NSIC Player of the Year racked up a CSP single-season record of 605 kills last fall en route to 24 double-doubles, 11 matches in which she recorded at least 20 kills and a rare triple-double. With 998 career kills, she remains just two kills from becoming the third player in Golden Bear history to total 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs.

Splitting the 10 first place votes, just one point separated defending regular-season and NSIC Tournament Champion Concordia University-St. Paul and Southwest Minnesota State University for top honors in this years poll. Concordia-St. Paul edged out the Mustangs garnering 85 points to SMSU's 84, marking the school's third consecutive season at the top of the poll. Wayne State College (Neb.), one of three institutions that finished the 2005 slate with matching 10-4 conference records (along with MSU-Moorhead and SMSU), earned 76 points to claim third place while Minnesota State University Moorhead finished in fourth with 63 points.

Northern State University moved into the top five (58) of the rankings for the first time since 2003 after a 6-8 NSIC mark last year. The Wolves were followed by Winona State University in sixth (54) and University of Minnesota, Crookston with 35 points for the seventh spot.

Bemidji State (28) finds itself sandwiched between the league's newest members at number nine. The University of Mary, hailing from Bismarck, N.D. and Feyette, Iowa's Upper Iowa University join the NSIC in 2006 and found the eighth and 10th spots with 34 and 23 points respectively.

The Beavers open their 37th season of competition August 25-26 with a quartet of matches at the Lady Buff Classic in Canyon Texas. BSU draws Harding University (Ark.) at 11:00 a.m. and Dallas Baptist University at 5:00 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 25). Saturday (Aug. 26) the team will face the host West Texas A&M University at 1:00 p.m. and will wrap up the event with a 5:00 p.m. tilt versus New Mexico Highlands University.
2006 Preseason NSIC Coaches Poll
1. Concordia-St. Paul (5) 85
2. Southwest Minnesota State (5) 84
3. Wayne State (Neb.) 76
4. Minnesota State Moorhead 63
5. Northern State 58
6. Winona State 54
7. Minnesota, Crookston 35
8. Mary (N.D.) 34
9. Bemidji State 28
10. Upper Iowa 23

First place vote(s) in ()
2006 NSIC Players to Watch

Brittney Burns, Jr., OH, Bemidji State
*Jessica Lucia, Sr., RS, Concordia-St. Paul
Tanya Hensch, Sr., MH, Mary (N.D.)
Ashley Maas, Jr., OH/RS, Mary (N.D.)
Erin Flynn, Sr., MH, Minnesota, Crookston
Becky Anderson, Sr., MH, Minnesota State Moorhead
Julie Vancura, Jr., S, Minnesota State Moorehead
Odemaris Diaz, Sr., MH/OH, Northern State
Erin Contons, Jr., OH, Southwest Minnesota State
Stephanie Smith, Sr., L, Upper Iowa
Laura Doelzal, Jr., L, Wayne State (Neb.)
Lisa Dobie, Jr., S, Winona State

*2006 NSIC Preseason Player of the Year