BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Sophomore Courtney Bitter (S, Bemidji, Minn.) posted her first-career triple-double (46 set assists, 19 digs and 11 kills), leading the Bemidji State University volleyball team to a thrilling 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 17-25, 25-14, 15-10) victory against Augustana College, Friday night at the BSU Gymnasium. A season-high 658 rowdy fans witnessed the Beavers (6-10, 3-3 NSIC) gnaw past the Vikings (8-10, 3-3 NSIC), in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match, for BSU’s first win against AC since Oct. 30, 1987. The win is a big step in the right direction for a Beaver team that has been lacking to find its place in the conference this season.
“We all played out of our minds,” Bitter said. “We had really good team chemistry. I think what we were lacking was confidence. We didn’t think we could come out and dominate against a highly-ranked conference team, but we did it tonight.”
Junior Nicole Olson (MB, Baudette, Minn.) added a career-high 20 kills and a season-high eight block assists in the win that pushed the Beavers’ conference record to 3-3. The three wins matches last season’s conference wins total. Junior Brie Groskreutz (OH, Reedsburg, Minn.) fell just one dig short of tying her career-high in digs with 32. With the big dig output, Groskreutz’s career total is at 1,099, placing her 10th on BSU’s career digs chart (since 1980).Freshman Laura Carlson (OH, Hutchinson, Minn.) had 17 kills, a career-high, and nine digs.
“I’m so proud of our team because we wanted to turn our game around and we did tonight,” said head coach Laurie Bitter. “We came out strong in the first set and controlled the court. Our defense tonight was phenomenal.”
The Beavers truly dominated the stat sheet for first time this season and had every player contribute to the cause. BSU came out firing in the first set and made quick work of the Vikings after taking the lead at 9-8 and never looking back. The Beavers were able to roll over the momentum into the second set, but AC put out the fire half-way through the set and were able to sneak past BSU with a 25-22 win. The Vikings came out of the break after the second set with a mission to take a 2-1 lead and they did, relinquishing the lead only once in the set, picking-up a 25-17 win.
The biggest issue with the young Beavers this season has been their ability to fight through adversity and take the next step towards winning big matches. Friday’s fourth set was a huge step in the right direction as BSU grabbed a 3-0 lead to start the frame and never let the Vikings within less than four, winning 25-14. The Beavers hadn’t been able to win a match this season when trailing 1-2, but that wasn’t going to stop them on their home court Friday. With the final set tied 5-5, BSU was able to take a 6-5 lead on a sophomore Laura Slinger (OH, Faribault, Minn.) kill from Bitter. After traded points with the Vikings, the Beavers pulled away at 13-8. AC made a small push, but a monster kill by Olson, from Bitter, sealed a victory for BSU.
Junior outside hitter Lindsey Weyer (Loyal, Wis.), who has seen minimal playing time this season, served seven times in the fifth set, including a run of three points that put BSU ahead. She had eight digs in the match, while playing every set. She had played in four sets all season previous to the match. Freshman Samantha Hertaus (libero, New Prague, Minn.) added 12 digs in the match.
Bitter’s 46 assists is her fourth 45-plus assist match of the season, the 11 kills is a career-high and the 19 digs falls just one short of tying her career-high. Also, the renaissance woman of the Beaver volleyball team added a career-high in blocks with four. Her .417 attacking percentage is a season-high and the two service aces ties her season-high.
“I don’t think about numbers when I’m playing. I just try and make everyone else around me better,” Bitter said.
NOTES: The Beavers are now 12-3 all-time against the Vikings...BSU is 2-1 at home this season and 1-2 in matches that go five sets.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).