Beavers outlast Winona State for NSIC road victory
Friday, September 25, 2009

WINONA, Minn. -- Bemidi State University head volleyball coach Laurie Bitter has been preaching all season that the Beavers need defense to win matches this season. Friday night was a perfect example of a complete defensive effort as five different Beavers posted double-digits in digs in a 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 30-28, 28-26) Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference road victory against Winona State University. BSU gutted out a win behind sophomore Courtney Bitter’s (S, Bemidji, Minn.) 50 set assists and freshman Samantha Hertaus’ (New Prague, Minn.) ‘coming out party’ with a career-high 29 digs.

BSU (5-9, 2-2 NSIC) needed two extra-point sets to take-down the Warriors (4-11, 2-2 NSIC). In set one, the two teams traded points before Hertaus served five straight points and the Beavers took a 23-16 lead, to eventually earn a 25-19 victory. The second set didn’t go as planed for BSU, as WSU took and early lead and never looked back. The final two sets could have gone either way, but the Beavers were able to work together and earn the match victory.

“The team showed a lot of composure and didn’t give up,” Bitter said. “We finished well.”

In set three, the Beavers took their first lead at 21-20 on a Hertaus service ace. The two teams traded points to a tie at 28-28. Again with Hertaus serving, BSU was able to earn the final two points on two kills from the two Laura’s on the team (freshman Laura Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.) and sophomore Laura Slinger (Faribault, Minn.). The fourth and final set was a true back-and-forth affair with either team ever taking more than a two-point lead. BSU grabbed a 27-26 lead on a kill by Carlson, set-up by Bitter’s 50th assist of the match, her second most output of her young career. Who else but Hertaus came to the service line for the Beavers to serve for match point and BSU prevailed on an attacking error by a Warrior hitter.

“We really needed to win on the road,” Bitter said. “The team played very intense. The win was huge for us.”

Hertaus had been struggling this season in the starting role as the libero, but tonight proved her abilities, as the 29 digs is 10 more than her previous career-high. She also added a match-high three service aces, with no service errors. The Beaver attack was also on par Friday night as three BSU players reached double-digits in kills. Carlson had a career-high 14 kills and added 10 digs for her first career double-double. Slinger also had a career-high in kills with 12. Junior Nicole Olson (MB, Baudette, Minn.) was the other Beaver in double digits with a team-high 14 kills. The other Beavers in double figures in digs were Bitter (10), who posted her ninth double-double of the season. Junior Brie Groskreutz (OH, Reedsburg, Minn.) had 26 digs in the match and junior Nicole Solum (RS, Spokane, Wash.) had a career-high 16.

Errors have been the achilles heel for the Beavers this season and the reason BSU was able to win Friday night was because they kept the errors down. The Beavers had 20 attacking errors to the Warriors’ 25. Four serving errors for WSU’s five and three service errors to the Warriors’ five.

BSU completes its three-match and three-state NSIC road trip at Upper Iowa University tomorrow, starting at 4 p.m.

NOTES: The Beavers only won one NSIC road match last season and that was the last match of the season against Upper Iowa...Bitter has defeated UIU in both her road contests in her career...BSU only played seven players in the match.

Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).