BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University volleyball team had opportunities to hand No. 22 Wayne State (Neb.) its third consecutive loss, Saturday afternoon at the BSU Gymnasium, but fell in five sets, 2-3 (25-18, 18-25, 23-25, 25-17, 7-15) in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match. BSU is now 0-5 against nationally-ranked opponents this season, but the Beavers have brought three of those matches to five sets (Sept. 4 - at No. 14 Florida Southern and Sept. 11 - vs. No. 12 Southwest Minnesota State).
The Beavers (6-11, 3-4 NSIC) were able to carry some momentum over from the big win against Augustana College the night before by never trailing in the first set and winning 25-18. The Wildcats (17-4, 5-2 NSIC) were coming off two consecutive losses to nationally-ranked opponents (No. 1 Concordia University and No. 10 Minnesota Duluth), but had won a school-record 15 straight matches previous to the losses. WSC woke-up in the second set and was able to reverse the first set score to its favor, winning 25-18. The third set could have gone either way, as the two teams were tied seven times in the first half of the set. BSU owned a 11-8 lead, but a 6-2 run by the Wildcats put them ahead 14-13 and forced the Beavers to take a timeout. Unfortunately, BSU was unable to ever regain the lead, despite making a push at the end of the set and WSC took the win, 25-23.
In the win against AC Friday, BSU had to comeback and win from a 1-2 deficit, which was the first time the team had accomplished the fete this season. With that experience fresh in the players’ minds, the Beavers didn’t even let the Wildcats in the set and cruised to a 25-17 victory, forcing a fifth and final set. WSC hadn’t given a reason for BSU to fear its national ranking in the first four sets, but in the decisive fifth, the Wildcats came alive. WSC junior Jennifer Hefner found the spring in her step in the set and crushed seven kills, including the first four and the last two points for the Wildcats. BSU never had a chance in the set and WSC won the set 15-7 and the match 3-2.
Sophomore Courtney Bitter (S, Bemidji, Minn.) continued to light-up the stat sheet after posting a triple-double Friday, and had 49 set assists, seven kills, six digs and two service aces. Sophomore Melissa McNeely (OH, Burnsville, Minn.) had a break-out performance offensively, posting a career-high 14 kills and a .393 attacking percentage, tying for the team lead in kills with junior Nicole Olson (MB, Baudette, Minn.). Olson also added four blocks (2 ba, 2 bs). Junior outside hitter Lindsey Weyer (Loyal, Wis.) continued her big weekend by tying for a team-high 17 digs with junior Brie Groskreutz (OH, Reedsburg, Minn.). Freshman Laura Carlson (OH, Hutchinson, Minn.) had a solid performance with 11 digs and nine kills. Sophomore Laura Slinger (OH, Faribault, Minn.) had 10 kills and four block assists for the Beavers.
BSU now goes on a tough four-match road trip, which starts Oct. 6 at No. 10 UMD. The Beavers will also have to battle No. 1 CU (Oct. 9), St. Cloud State (Oct. 10) and Division I the University of North Dakota (Oct. 13).
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).