Beavers hit the road to face Winona State, Upper Iowa
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Beavers hit the road to face Winona State, Upper Iowa

Beavers at (RV) Winona State • Sept. 28 • 7 p.m.
All-time series: Series tied 44-44
About the Warriors (13-2, 5-0 NSIC)...
Winona State will be the first in-state team the Beavers face on the road this season. The Warriors are off to a flying 13-2 start and are the first team to sit alone atop the 2012 NSIC standings with a 5-0 conference record. After a 1-2 start, WSU has won 12 consecutive matches including two at a early-season tournament in Missouri, all five matches at a tournament in Indiana, and four matches against NSIC opponents it has in common with BSU. The Warriors are led offensively by Kate Horihan, who is second in the conference in hitting percentage at .404. Bekah Saugen leads the Warriors in kills and Elena Kruesek has a a team-high 213 assists. Kaley Jacobson (202) and Kayla Uhlenhake (183) have also racked up high assist totals. Winona State also boasts the NSIC blocks per game leader, Kathy Lohff, who has 40 total blocks.

Bemidji State vs. Winona State...
Winona State is the third-most common opponent on BSU’s all-time schedule. Teams have split the 88 matches and the Warriors have won eight in a row dating back to Sept. 21, 2007.

Beavers at Upper Iowa • Sept. 29 • 5 p.m.
All-time series: BSU leads 11-4
About the Peacocks (8-6, 2-3 NSIC)...
Upper Iowa, who will host Minnesota, Crookston on Friday before the Beavers arrive, is 8-6 on the season with a 2-3 NSIC ledger. The Peacocks began the year with a four wins at its own tournament, including victories over NSIC teams St. Cloud and U-Mary. After going 2-2 at the Middle of Everywhere Tournament, UIU lost its first three conference matches, but has won two in a row against Minot State and U-Mary. Upper Iowa is led by Kayla Wagner, who is tied for first in the NSIC in blocks per game at 1.38 (77 total). Melanie Behnke leads the squad in kills with 208 and Skylar Lesan has 389 assists. Amanda Weiss leads the Peacocks with 231 digs.

Bemidji State vs. Upper Iowa...
The Beavers have an 11-4 all-time record against Upper Iowa, but the Peacocks won both of last year’s meetings by 3-0 scores. BSU won seven straight meetings between Oct. 2005 and Nov. 2008.

Weekend Preview
Last week, Bemidji State finally got to play at home in 2012 after six neutral site matches and three road matches to begin the season. The Beavers will now hit the road again for matches against Winona State, who received votes in the AVCA rankings and sits atop the NSIC standings at 5-0, and Upper Iowa. Last weekend’s opponents, Augustana and Wayne State, had heavy historical advantages against BSU, entering the weekend with a combined 38-5 all-time record against the Beavers. Bemidji State is 55-48 all-time against Winona State and Upper Iowa combined. Depsite a slight edge in the combined all-time series, the Warriors and Peacocks have fared better in 2012, so far. WSU is the only team in the NSIC without a conference loss and are on the verge of entering the top-25, while Upper Iowa has jumped out to an 8-6 start. The Beavers will look to snap a four-match losing skid before beginning a four-match home homestand on Oct. 5.

Last Time Out
After playing its first nine matches either at a neutral site or on the road, Bemidji State finally got to play at home last week. On Tuesday, the Beavers dropped a 3-0 decision in their home opener to Minnesota, Crookston. 

The final score may not have been indicative of how close the game actually was. UMC took a first set in which neither team led by more than two points, 25-23. Bemidji State earned a 14-9 lead in to start the second set, but the Golden Eagles went on a 9-2 run, the Beavers could not finish with a 25-24 lead, and Minnesota, Crookston pulled out a 27-25 win. BSU spotted itself a five-point lead again in the third set, but UMC’s offense caught fire and finished the game on a 15-6 run to win 25-21.

On Friday night, Augustana extended the Beavers’ losing streak to three with another sweep (25-18, 25-17, 25-16). Wayne State, who came to town with a No. 21 ranking, did the same by winning 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-20), but did not win easily. The Beavers kept every set close, but allowed multiple long WSC runs en route to their ninth loss of the season.

Playing at Home
Last week, Bemidji State continued NSIC play and played at home for the first time after beginning the season with nine consecutive neutral site/road games. The Beavers lost 3-0 in matches against Minnesota, Crookston, Augustana, and then-No. 21 Wayne State.

Playing on the Road
Though they have only played three times at home, the Beavers have also only played three true road matches. BSU, 1-2 on the road, beat Minot State in its NSIC debut and lost to Pittsburg State and U-Mary.

Senior Bethany Thompson and sophomore setter Courtney Volkmann have landed themselves among the statistical leaders in the conference and the nation. In the conference, Thompson is ranked second in kills per game at 4.12 (169 total) and second in points per game with 4.48 (183.5 total). Those numbers put the senior captain at 12th in the nation in kills per set and leave her tied for 21st in points per set. Volkmann is second in the NSIC in service aces per game at 0.49 (20 total) and 10th in assists per game with 9.34 (383 total).

Tough Schedule
According the Week 4 AVCA Division II volleyball rankings, the Beavers will face six ranked teams. In addition to playing then-No. 19th Ferris State and then-No. 21 Wayne State, BSU faces four top 25-ranked NSIC opponents, including four of the top 10. Two more NSIC teams, Winona State and MSU Moorhead, also received votes and are just outside the top-25.

Out and About
Bemidji State’s 2012 schedule doesn’t feature much travel and the Beavers have already taken care of most of it. BSU opened with its longest trip of the season to Pittsburg, Kan. and played four of its eight out-of-state matches. The Beavers will now only leave Minnesota to play at Upper Iowa on Saturday and Northern State on Nov. 9.

A Career Weekend
In three matches at the UMD Volleyball Classic two weeks ago, senior outside hitter Bethany Thompson beat or tied personal career bests in kills (24), digs (21), aces (4), blocks (3), and assists (3). Her performance, which saw her collect a double-double in all three games, earned her a spot on the UMD Classic all-tournament team as well as Beaver Pride Athlete of the Week honors (third of her career).

Nonconference Play
The Beavers wrapped up nonconference play at the UMD Volleyball Classic on Sept. 7-8, beating Erskine and falling to Ferris State and Shippensburg. BSU finished non-NSIC play with a 2-5 record, bringing Wayne Chadwick’s nonconference record with the school to 11-12.

A Young Squad...
The Beavers entered the season with only two upperclassmen: Bethany Thompson, the lone senior and team captain, and Halee Staskivige, who sat out last season. The rest of the 14-player roster, which lost six letterwinners, includes six freshmen and six sophomores.

...But an Experienced Squad
Though the team only has one senior and one junior, the Beavers have brought back several players who played key roles on the team in 2011. Six members of the current team started at least one of last season’s 28 matches: Bethany Thompson (28), Rachel Craig (28), Kelsi Crawford (17), Kelly Niles (17), Courtney Volkmann (11), and Elissa Christensen (1). Thus far in the season, each of freshman has seen playing time in at least four of the 12 matches. Overall, the team returned eight letterwinners.