BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University volleyball team took Quick Bunny’s advice from the Nestle Nesquick commercials and “Shared the Wealth” Friday night at the BSU Gymnasium, defeating Northern State University in straight sets in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest. Six different Beavers had at least five kills in the match, pacing the team to its second best hitting percentage of the season at a .266 clip. With the sweep (25-13, 25-21, 25-20), BSU earns its sixth 3-0 win of the season. The Beaver defense was also stellar, holding the Wolves (8-11 overall, 3-8 NSIC) to a .053 hitting percentage.
“The team played consistent, aggressive and intense for the whole match,” said head coach Laurie Bitter. “We played confident and composed, showing maturity. We wanted to play out the rest of the season with confidence and we did it tonight.”
Sophomore Courtney Bitter (S, Bemidji, Minn.) dished out 30 assists to seven different attackers in arguably the most efficient match the Beavers have played this season. The .266 attacking percentage is second to BSU’s .286 percentage in the 3-2 win against Augustana College Oct. 2. The Beavers split the season series with Northern State, with each team winning on its home court.
The Beavers lost the first three points in the first set, but cruised once they gained the lead at 7-6, increasing their lead to 10-6. BSU would go on a 15-7 run to close the match, never letting NSU get within three. In the second set, the Beavers lost the first two points, but a kill by junior Nicole Olson (MB, Baudette, Minn.) returned the service to BSU and started a 5-0 run to give the Beavers a 5-2 lead. Again, BSU stayed focused and never relinquished the lead. The Wolves got within one at 11-10, but a 6-2 run crushed any hopes NSU had of taking the set. The third set was looking like it would be another runaway frame for BSU, as the Beavers pounded the floor for six kills in their first 10 points, owning a 10-4 lead. The home team continued to pressure the road wiry Wolves and quickly had a 22-11 lead. At that point, NSU decided to start playing error-free volleyball and went on a 9-1 run, getting within just three. In the end, a monster kill from sophomore Laura Slinger (OH, Faribault, Minn.) and a NSU attacking error sealed the deal for BSU.
Olson (.375 attacking percentage), Slinger (.571 attacking percentage) and Bitter (season-high .538 attacking percentage) led the team in kills with eight and junior Nicole Solum (RS, Spokane, Wash.) had seven. Sophomore Melissa McNeely (OH, Burnsville, Minn.) and freshman Bethany Thompson (OH, Owatonna, Minn.) added five kills a piece. Freshman Samantha Hertaus (Libero/DS, New Prague, Minn.) totalled a match-high 14 digs and added a career-high four set assists. Junior Brie Groskreutz (OH, Reedsburg, Minn.) had 13 digs, which was still more than any NSU player. Olson and Slinger each added three blocks.
The Beavers continue their three-match NSIC homestand tomorrow against the University of Mary at 3 p.m.
NOTES: Friday’s match started the second half of the NSIC season...BSU is now 2-8 against NSU in the last 10 meetings...The win marks coach Bitter’s 25th career victory at BSU and overall...The win is the second conference victory in a row, which is a season-long...The last time BSU had six 3-0 victories in a season was in 2004 when that team accumulated seven.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).