BEMIDJI, Minn. – After going 0-4 at the Yellowjacket Invitational in last week’s season-opening weekend, the Bemidji State University volleyball team travels to Indianapolis, Ind., looking to grow and make improvements by competing in the UIndy Invite hosted by University of Indianapolis, Sept. 10-11, to close out the non-conference portion of its 2021 schedule. The Beavers (0-4, 0-0 NSIC) open the two-day tournament by facing Wheeling University Friday at 2 p.m. EDT followed by Missouri University of Science and Technology at 7 p.m. EDT.
The opponents on day two will be determined by Friday’s pool play with UIndy, University of West Florida, Cedarville University, Winona State University, Ashland University and Northern Michigan University also competing at the tournament.
Getting Back into the Swing of Things
After 657 days since their last official NCAA volleyball contest, the Beavers traveled to Billings, Mont., to compete in the Yellowjacket Invitational and get back into the swing of the volleyball season. BSU competed hard but fell in all four matches. Although the scores may not reflect the desired result, the Beavers steadily improved throughout the tournament and saw growth from everyone, especially BSU’s 11 underclassmen.
Senior outside hitter Anna Averkamp led the Beavers averaging 2.17 kills per set and totaled 26 kills, while sophomores Rylie Bjerklie and Rilee Michaelson followed with 20 and 18 kills, respectively. Junior middle blocker Rylee Pompa added 14 kills in 10 sets played while freshman Ashley Crowl totaled 11 kills in just six sets played to finish second on the team with a 1.83 kills/set average. Junior Meeghen Dahlager and freshman Lauren Sitter each added 10 kills for the Beavers.
Freshman Emily Wade coordinated the Beavers’ attack and led the team with 81 assists to finish 13th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 6.23 assists/set average. Wade’s best performance of the tournament came against Saint Martin’s University after totaling a career-high 33 assists. Sophomore Taylor Birr also saw action setting the ball for the Beavers and totaled 23 assists in just six sets for a 3.83 a/s average.
Leading the Beavers’ defense was sophomore libero Madison Weyker who totaled 61 digs in 13 sets and stands fourth in the NSIC with a 4.69 digs/set average. Weyker’s best performance of the tournament came against Saint Martin’s after recording a career-high 20 digs. At the net, the Beavers were led by Bjerklie who recorded nine blocks (0s-9a) for a 0.69 blocks/set average while Sitter followed with six blocks (0s-6a, 0.55 b/s).
On the serve, junior Annie Hopp, Wade and sophomore Lauren Justesen each posted a team-high three aces, while Hopp paced the team with a 0.38 service aces/set average after totaling three aces in just eight sets.
Bemidji State struggled on the attack in the tournament and ranks last in the NSIC (16th) with a .067 hitting percentage after totaling 125 kills (15th) with 95 attacking errors (4th) in 446 total attacks (11th). BSU also allowed opponents to hit a .241 efficiency to rank 14th in the league and allowed 13.62 kills per set for the highest average in the NSIC.
The Beavers’ favored better in the rankings on defense with a 13.92 digs/set average to rank eighth in the league and 14th with a 1.15 blocks/set average.
Bemidji State opens the tournament by facing Wheeling who received 43 votes in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association national poll. The Cardinals opened the 2021 season by traveling to Pensacola, Fla., to compete in the West Florida Invitational, Sept. 2-4. The Cardinals went 2-2 at the tournament with wins against University of Southern Indiana and Spring Hill College but fell to University of West Florida and Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Wheeling ranks third in the Mountain East Conference with a .245 hitting percentage and averages 13.06 kills/set to rank fourth. Its opponents averaged a .277 hitting percentage which is last in the conference and 15.56 kills/set which is also last. The Cardinals are led by senior Kayla Bekier who averages 3.23 kills/set with 42 kills in 13 sets while Maddy winters follows with 38 kills in 16 sets for a 2.38 kills/set average. Their attack is run through Karly Niesen who has totaled 172 assists and 10.75 assists/set while Audrey Francis leads the team on defense with 94 digs (5.88/s). At the net, Winters paces the team with 10 blocks (1s-9a) while Lexi Smith has added seven (3s-4a).
Bemidji State closes out day one of the tournament by facing Missouri S&T. The Miners had a good start to their 2021 season after going 3-1 at the Miner Invitational in season-opening play. The Miners hosted the invitational and earned wins against Purdue University Northwest, University of Arkansas-Monticello and Missouri Western State University. Missouri S&T’s lone loss in the tournament came against NSIC competitor, University of Upper Iowa in five sets.
The Miners were led by Payton Gannaway who posted 59 kills in 15 sets for a 3.93 kills/set average while Jordan Burton followed closely with 58 kills in 15 sets for a 3.87 kills/set average. Both Shelby Ply and Avery Reed totaled 29 kills to tie for third on the team. Hannah Merjil led the Miners with 90 assists during the tournament for a 6.00 assists/set average while Katarina Seres added 56 assists. Missouri S&T’s defense was led by Meiko Pearson who recorded 51 digs while Lexi Netherlain added 35 digs and Gannaway followed with 34. Ply paced the Miners at the net with 18 blocks (1s-17a) while Kiernan O’Boyle followed with 14 (6s-8a) and Gannaway added 12 (1s-12a).
Day two’s opponents will be revealed Friday night following pool play.
Wheeling: Bemidji State is 0-1 in program history versus the Cardinals with its first and last meeting on Sept. 14, 2019 where the Beavers fell in five sets. BSU was close to pulling off the upset over the then ranked No. 14 Cardinals but fell 15-12 in the thrilling fifth set.
Missouri S&T: Friday’s matchup versus the Miners will be the first meeting between the two programs.
For more information on the Bemidji State volleyball program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeaversVB), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers and Volleyball Facebook) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooden region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, BSU sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).