Beaver Fever Friday – Kylie Struble – Volleyball

Beavers set for road trip at No. 4 Golden Bears, Mavericks Bemidji State enters the week tied for eighth in the NSIC standings

The Bemidji State University Volleyball team looks to continue their push to making the conference tournament this week playing at No. 4 Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota State. The Beavers will play the Golden Bears on Friday at 6 p.m. and then have a quick turnaround with an 11 a.m. match on Saturday at Minnesota State.

Bemidji State (8-12, 5-7 NSIC) enters the week tied with two other teams for the eighth and final NSIC Tournament spot. Minnesota State and Sioux Falls are also 5-7 in conference action. Augustana played on Tuesday and fell in four sets to Southwest Minnesota State to go to 5-8 in NSIC play. Wayne State is 12-0 in conference play, holding a two-game lead over both Concordia-St. Paul and Southwest Minnesota State for the top spot.

The Beavers battled last time out against both No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State and Winona State but fell 3-0 in both contests. BSU will see another team right behind them currently in the standings in Augustana next week in Bemidji.

On the season, Bemidji State has 906 kills, 838 assists, 137 service aces, 983 digs and 119 blocks. Ashley Crowl is approaching 200 kills currently at 196 to lead the team. Rylie Bjerklie and Hallie Mertz added 179 apiece. Lauren Sitter has 133 and Zayda Priebe gives the Beavers five with over 100 sitting at 107. Emily Wade has 621 assists, while Hally Holker recently went over 100 on the season, currently at 102.Crowl and Mertz lead the team in service aces with 36 each. Lauren Justesen has 347 digs, with Crowl adding 168. Bjerklie has sent back 45 blocks, with Lilly Bandle adding 38.

Bemidji State ranks second in the NSIC in both team service aces (137) and service aces per set (1.83). Individually, Crowl and Mertz rank second in the conference in both service aces and service aces per set (0.48). Bjerklie is third in the conference and 32nd nationally in hitting percentage (.366). Justesen ranks fourth in the NSIC in total digs (347).

The Beavers are in the midst of having their best season since 2010 when that BSU team went 12-16.

BSU opens the week facing No. 4 Concordia-St. Paul this Friday night. The Golden Bears are 19-2 overall and 10-2 in NSIC play. Outside of an early conference loss to Wayne State, CSP had won out until falling to St. Cloud State this past Friday in four sets.

CSP has 1,148 kills, 1,074 assists, 132 service aces, 1,131 digs and 151 blocks on the season. Jasmine Mulvihill leads the team with 246 kills, followed by Sophia Andersen’s 242. Teagan Starkey sets up the offense with 967 assists. Payton Stier has 25 service aces. On defense, Emma Schmidt has 266 digs, with Ellie Sieling adding 238. Katie Mattson has sent back 52 blocks, with Mulvihill adding 38.

Concordia-St. Paul is 32-8 against the Beavers since 1972 and have won the last 30 meetings. CSP is 18-3 against the Beavers in St. Paul. During the 2019 season, the teams played a five-set match in Bemidji. The last BSU win was in 2001 picking up the 3-2 win in Bemidji. The last road win in St. Paul was in 2000 (3-1).

To close the road trip Bemidji State will face Minnesota State on Saturday morning. The Mavericks are 10-10 overall and 5-7 in NSIC play. This past weekend, MSU picked up the four-set win at No. 10 Minnesota Duluth before falling in straight sets to No. 13 St. Cloud State.

The Mavericks have 808 kills, 749 assists, 107 service aces, 935 digs and 164.5 blocks on the season.

Minnesota State is led by Sophie Tietz with 180 kills, while Kiya Durant adds 138. Brooke Bolwerk sets up the offense with 452 assists, while Makayla Snow adds 174. Tietz has a team-best 29 service aces. On defense, Ellie Kline has 276 digs, while Durant has sent back 74 blocks. Emily Kern has 69 blocks and Tietz adds 68.

Minnesota State is 39-16 against the Beavers since 1977 and have won eight straight in the series. BSU is 6-24 against the Mavericks in Mankato. The last win for Bemidji State was at home during the 2015 season claiming the five-set win. The last road win was in 1997 claiming the four-set win. Although MSU won in three sets last year, two sets were close with the first set going to 28-26 and the final set at 25-22.

Career notes: Justesen is now over 700 career digs after last week. In 185 sets played, Justesen has 708 digs, averaging 3.83 per set. Mertz recently eclipsed 500 kills in her career and now has 502 in 206 sets. Wade continues her push for 2,000 career assists and is now at 1,713. Bjerklie is closing in on 500 career kills and is now at 414. Sitter is close to passing 400 career kills and enters the week at 393.

Following the road trip, Bemidji State will return home to host Augustana and Wayne State on Nov. 3-4 inside the BSU Gym. It will be Family Night on Friday and then Senior Day on Saturday.