BEMDIJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University volleyball team was able to hang with the No. 5 Concordia University, St. Paul Golden Bears but ultimately fell in three sets (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) on Friday night at the BSU Gymnasium in Bemidji, Minn. Friday’s match served as BSU’s “Dig for the Cure” match to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. Both teams donned pink attire for the match with the Beavers sporting pink warm-ups and pink shoelaces while Concordia-St. Paul wore pink uniforms for the match.
With Friday’s loss BSU falls to 9-12 (3-10 NSIC). The Golden Bears improve to 18-4. They are currently unbeaten in NSIC play with a 13-0 record.
“I thought we played really well tonight,” said head coach Wayne Chadwick. “Concordia-St. Paul is No. 5 in the country and they are the three-time defending NCAA Division II National Champion. Unfortunately, last week when we played them quite frankly I don’t think we made them break a sweat (in the earlier match) at all. It was clearly our worst match of the year. However, today we came to play. Yes they beat us in three but I thought we played really well and really hard and Concordia had to earn every point they earned.”
Nicole Olson (Sr., MB, Baudette, Minn.) and Kimberly Hacker (Jr., MB/RS, Hutchinson, Minn.) led the way for Bemidji State offensively in the match. Olson finished the match with a team-high 10 kills on the night. Hacker had eight kills and tied a season high by hitting .538 on the match. Nicole Solum (Sr., RS, Spokane, Wash.) and Bethany Thompson (So., OH/MB, Owatonna, Minn.) each added six kills against the Golden Bears. Setter Jessi-Beth McCannell (Jr., S, Brandon, Manitoba) finished the night with 30 assists. BSU hit .182 for the match with 37 kills.
“I thought Solum had a great match,” Chadwick said. “I think Thompson did a pretty good job on the outside. Olson had a very sluggish first game but bounced back to have good games in both game two and game three. A kid I don’t talk enough about is Hacker. Her numbers don’t normally leap off the page at you but she had a great night for us. That is a very steady and hard-working kid.”
Defensively, Brie Groskreutz (Sr, Lib., Reedsburg, Wis.) led the way with 12 digs. Melissa McNeely (Jr., OH/DS, Burnsville, Minn.) contributed eight digs on the night. Olson had her best night of the season on the block with four solo blocks and three block assists. BSU finished the match with nine team blocks.
Returning All-America selection Emily Palkert led the way for Concordia-St. Paul with 13 kills, hitting .290 on the match. Cassie Haag added to the Golden Bears’ cause with 12 kills and a .550 hitting percentage. Megan Carlson and Kayla Koenecke each had nine kills. Setter Amanda Konetchy finished the match with 44 assists. Concordia-St. Paul hit .327 on the match with 47 kills.
Defensively, Carlson was a defensive pest with a team-high 16 digs. Libero Taylor Fieldsted added 11 on the night. Haag contributed one solo block and three block assists for Concordia-St. Paul.
The Golden Bears improve to 21-9-1 all-time against the Beavers. Bemidji State lost to Concordia-St. Paul earlier this season in a 3-0 match where they weren’t quite as competitive in the three sets, losing 25-7, 25-9, 25-11. The Golden Bears are currently one of four teams in the NSIC ranked among the top six teams in the nation. They have not lost a match since Sept. 28 when they lost to No. 3 Southwest Minnesota State. The match was played as a nonconference tilt between the two NSIC schools. Concordia, St. Paul will play at the No. 1 University of Minnesota Duluth on Saturday.
The Beavers will return to action on Sat., Oct. 23 at 4 p.m., against St. Cloud State. The Huskies come into the match ranked 10th in the NCAA Central Region poll. They are one of six teams in the NSIC to appear in the most recent region rankings. -bsu-