Beaver Fever Friday – Lilly Bandle – Volleyball

BSU Volleyball continues homestand with No. 7 Mustangs, Warriors

Beavers enter the week eighth in the NSIC standings

The Bemidji State University Volleyball team is coming off an electric four-set win over then No. 8 St. Cloud State last time out on Saturday. The Beavers will look to carry that momentum into the two matches this week hosting No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State on Friday at 6 p.m. and then Winona State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

On Friday, the first 50 fans into the game will receive a free shirt courtesy of Snap Fitness of Bemidji. Snap Fitness, located on Anne Street, offers a BSU student and staff discount. Snap Fitness is a 24/7 gym, so you can exercise when you want on your schedule!

Bemidji State improved to 8-10 overall and into the eight spot in the NSIC standings with a 5-5 mark after winning a tight 28-26 fourth set to defeat the Huskies 3-1. That came after BSU defeated Minnesota Crookston in four sets earlier in the week.

Rylie Bjerklie tallied 17 kills to pace the offense, with Ashley Crowl adding 15. Emily Wade set the table with 40 assists. On defense, Lilly Bandle sent back seven blocks (four solo), while Lauren Justesen had 19 digs and 16 more from Crowl.

It was the first win over a ranked team since 2019 and the first win over St. Cloud State since 2016. The eight wins this season is the most since 2010 when that team went 12-16.

Bemidji State has 843 kills, 781 assists, 133 service aces, 889 digs and 107 blocks this season. BSU is hitting .210 and teams are hitting .228. Crowl leads the offense with 187 kills, while Hallie Mertz adds 167, Bjerklie with 166, Lauren Sitter at 121 and Zayda Priebe with 107. Bjerklie and Priebe hold some impressive hitting percentages with Bjerklie at .368 and Priebe at .354. Wade, who recently eclipsed 1,500 career assists, leads the team with 584. Mertz has 35 service aces, with Crowl adding 34. On defense, Justesen has 310 digs, with Crowl adding 152. Bjerklie leads in blocks with 39, with Bandle now over 30 at 32.

BSU leads the NSIC in service aces per set (1.93) and in team service aces (133). The Beavers are 64th nationally in aces per set and 76th in overall team aces. Individually, Mertz is second in the NSIC in service aces per set (0.51) and leads the conference overall aces (35). She ranks 61st nationally in aces per set and 45th in overall aces. Crowl is third in aces per set (0.49) and third in overall aces (34). Bjerklie is second in the NSIC and 33rd nationally in hitting percentage (.368), while Priebe is 53rd nationally in hitting percentage (.354). Justesen is fifth in the NSIC in overall digs (310).

Southwest Minnesota State enters as the No. 7 team in the nation going 16-3 overall and 8-2 in NSIC play. The Mustangs have won the last two matches against Winona State and Sioux Falls since falling to No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul in four sets. SMSU played on Tuesday defeating Sioux Falls in four in Marshall.

Leah Jones leads SMSU with 198 kills, with Saari Kuehl adding 179. Alisa Bengen sets the offense up with 697 assists. On defense, McKenzie Tolk has 308 digs, with Bengen adding 195. Emma VanHell has sent back 61 blocks, with Karli Arkell adding 56 blocks.

Southwest Minnesota State is 67-31 in the series since 1977 and have won the last 16 meetings. The matches have been close in Bemidji with SMSU holding the slight 27-24 edge. Last year, SMSU won 3-0 in Bemidji. The last win for BSU was during the 2009 season in Bemidji tallying the 3-1 victory.

Bemidji State closes the homestand facing Winona State on Saturday. The Warriors are 14-5 overall and 6-4 in NSIC play, having lost last time out to SMSU on Saturday in Winona by a 3-0 score. Prior to that loss, WSU won three straight.

Sidney Paulson leads Winona State with 236 kills, with Gianna Vollrath adding 177. Jaci Winchell sets the offense with 726 assists. Kylie Welch adds 35 service aces. On defense, Rylee Vaughn has 318 digs and Taylor Pagel has sent back 65 blocks.

Winona State holds the slight 53-46 series advantage since 1970 and have won the last 16 meetings. The teams have played close in Bemidji with WSU holding the 25-23 edge. The last win for the Beavers was in 2009 claiming the 3-1 win in Winona. Last year the teams played a four-set match in Winona with the Warriors coming away with the win.