BEMIDJI, Minn. --The Bemidji State University volleyball team halted an eight-game skid with a 3-1 victory over Upper Iowa University on Saturday evening at the BSU Gymnasium in Bemidji, Minn. With the victory, the Beavers improve to 9-11 (3-9 NSIC). Upper Iowa falls to 9-11 (3-9 NSIC). The win is the first for the Beavers since Sept. 18 when they defeated the University of Minnesota, Crookston on the road.
“It is nice to play a couple of teams this weekend that weren’t nationally ranked, it is the first time in a month,” said head coach Wayne Chadwick. “It was good. We played well in the first two games especially. We were in some holes and I thought the team did a great job of staying calm and working on a point at a time. We let the third game get away from us but then in the fourth game we got some seperation early and were able to hang on for the win.”
Saturday’s match was a battle between the Beavers and Peacocks, the first set was played back and forth before BSU finally came away with the 28-26 victory after Upper Iowa stole three set points. In the second set, BSU was narrowly able to come away with a 25-23 win after being down earlier in the set. Upper Iowa bounced back in the third set with a 25-19 victory but the Beavers were ultimately able to stave off their opponents with a 25-17 win in the fourth and final set of the match.
Nicole Olson (Sr., MB, Baudette, Minn.) and Bethany Thompson (So., OH/MB, Owatonna, Minn.) led the Beavers with 14 kills apiece. Olson hit .290 for the match. Thompson finished the night hitting .152. Bemidji State had 55 kills as a team with a .193 hitting percentage. Nicole Solum (Sr., RS, Spokane, Wash.) chipped in 12 kills and hit .303. Setter Jessi-Beth McCannell (Jr., Brandon, Manitoba) finished Saturday’s match with a career-high tying 48 assists.
Defensively, the Beavers dug up 91 balls from the Upper Iowa offense. Brie Groskreutz (Sr., Lib., Reedsburg, Wis.) led the way with 28 digs. McCannell finished the match with 17 digs, while Melissa McNeely (Jr., OH/DS, Burnsville, Minn.) had 12 digs and Lindsey Weyer (Sr., OH/DS, Loyal, Wis.) had 10. Kimberly Hacker (Jr., MB/RS, Hutchinson, Minn.) finished the night with one solo block and two block assists.
Sara Vance led the way for the Peacocks with 18 kills. Upper Iowa was held to a .181 hitting percentage for the match. Kayla Wagner chipped in 11 kills and Nicky Brown had 10 kills. Setter Skylar Lesan finished the match with 41 assists.
Defensively, libero Danielle Gernes led the Peacocks with 22 digs. Brown chipped in 16 digs. Wagner finished the night with four block assists.
Saturday’s win ends the longest losing streak for the Beavers since they lost nine straight from Oct. 3 to Oct. 31 during the 2008 season. During this season’s struggle, BSU lost to six opponents ranked in the top 15 nationally, including five to opponents ranked in the top 10.
The Beavers hit .286 in game one and .087 in game two. They fell off offensively in game three, only hitting .000 with nine kills before rebounding for their best set of the night offensively in game four with a .394 attack percentage.
McCannell’s 48 assists ties her mark set earlier this year against Montana State-Northern. Her previous high was 46 coming into the season. McCannell tallied the 46 assists in a 3-0 sweep of Upper Iowa to earn NSIC Player of the Week honors in her first and only game as a setter last season. McCannell was a defensive specialist for the Beavers coming into the season before being asked to step into the role of setter.
BSU will return to action on Oct. 22 when they face No. 6 Concordia-St. Paul at BSU Gymnasium at 7 p.m. The Beavers lost their first match to the three-time defending champions, 3-0, last Tuesday. Friday’s match will serve as BSU’s “Dig for the Cure” match. Donations will be taken at the door for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure.