North Dakota State at Oakland Friday, Fort Wayne Saturday
Release: September 25, 2012
THIS WEEK: North Dakota State (4-10, 1-3) looks to climb back into the Summit League women's volleyball race this weekend when the Bison play fourth-place Oakland (9-6, 2-2) at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Athletics Center O'rena (3,000) in Rochester, Mich., and second-place Fort Wayne (13-3, 3-1) at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center (2,000) in Fort Wayne, Ind.
THE SERIES: Friday will be the 13th meeting between North Dakota State and Oakland dating back to 1989. NDSU leads the series 11-1 including a pair of sweeps during the 2011 regular season and a 3-1 win in last year's Summit League semifinal match. OU's only victory was a 3-2 home win in 2010. ... Saturday will be the 24th meeting between North Dakota State and Fort Wayne dating back to 1987. IPFW has won four of the last six matches but NDSU still holds a 12-11 edge in the series. The teams traded 3-1 home wins last year.
ABOUT OAKLAND: The Golden Grizzlies are 9-6 overall and 2-2 in The Summit League after losing 3-2 at Kansas City and winning 3-1 at South Dakota last weekend. Three starters and the libero return from last year's 18-10 team that tied for third in The Summit League with a 12-6 record. Senior libero Alli Kirk ranks 24th nationally averaging 5.36 digs per set for an OU team that ranks 26th nationally with 17.39 digs per set. Senior outside hitter Meghan Bray leads the OU attack and ranks 13th nationally with 4.54 kills per set. Head coach Rob Beam (Clarke College, 1996) has a 77-81 record in his sixth season at Oakland.
ABOUT FORT WAYNE: The Mastodons have won four straight to improve to 13-3 overall and are 3-1 in The Summit League after winning 3-1 at South Dakota and 3-0 at Kansas City last weekend. Four starters and the libero are back from last year's 21-9 team that placed second in the league with a 14-4 record. IPFW ranks 16th nationally in kills per set (14.51) led by sophomore outside hitter Emily Spencer, who is 40th with 4.09 kills per set. Senior libero Tessa McGill is fourth nationally with 6.02 digs per set overall and senior setter Megan Steenhuysen is ninth with 11.84 assists per set. Head coach Kelley Hartley Hutton (Toledo, 1991) has a 284-144 record in her 14th season at IPFW and a 421-211 record in her 19th season overall.
BISON FALL TWICE AT HOME: North Dakota State last weekend lost back-to-back home matches to Summit League opponents for the first time since joining the league in 2007. Western Illinois' 3-2 win Friday was its first in six visits to Fargo and IUPUI's 3-1 win Saturday was its first in 13 matches against NDSU. The Bison have lost back-to-back Summit League matches only one other time - at Oakland and Fort Wayne in 2010.
LAMBERTSON LEADS ATTACK: Senior middle Megan Lambertson led the Bison attack last weekend averaging 4.00 kills per set and hitting .443 over two matches. Lambertson belted a match- and career-high 21 kills in the five-set loss to Western Illinois and had a season-high .463 hitting percentage. She has hit over .400 in five of the past six contests.
SUMMIT LEAGUE STATS: North Dakota State has four players among the Summit League statistical leaders in the league-only stats through Monday, Sept. 24. Brynn Joki ranked fifth with 3.75 kills per set, Megan Lambertson was third in hitting (.396) and eighth in kills per set (3.38), Catherine Yager was fourth with 9.93 assists per set, Andrea Henning was seventh with 4.50 digs per set.
HENNING POSTS SCHOOL-RECORD 36 DIGS: Senior libero Andrea Henning set an NDSU four-set match record with 36 digs in the Sept. 8 victory over Drake. She passed the previous mark of 34 digs by Kari Fagnan against Western Illinois in 2007 and it was the second largest overall dig total in school history behind Fagnan's 42 at UTEP in 2007.
HENNING, JOKI REACH MILESTONES: North Dakota State senior libero Andrea Henning became the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career digs in the season opener at Northern Illinois. Henning has 1,232 digs and ranks ninth on the NDSU career chart. Meanwhile, senior outside hitter Brynn Joki became the 21st player in school history to reach 1,000 kills Sept. 16 at South Dakota State. Joki is 19th in school history with 1,023 kills.
ALL-TOURNAMENT SELECTIONS: North Dakota State's Carissa Whalen, Brynn Joki and Megan Lambertson earned all-tournament team honors during the first three weeks of play. Whalen was all-tourney at Northern Illinois where she hit a team-best .388 with 11 blocks in losses to Northern Illinois, New Mexico State and Wichita State. Joki was all-tournament at Northern Colorado where she averaged 3.80 kills and 3.10 digs per set in a win over Air Force and losses to Oklahoma and Northern Colorado. Joki and Lambertson both were picked at Wisconsin where Joki averaged 3.92 kills and 4.92 digs per set and Lambertson hit .359 with 30 kills and 14 blocks in three matches.
NCAA ATTENDANCE RANKINGS: North Dakota State ranked 51st in last year's NCAA Division I average home attendance rankings. NDSU drew 11,543 fans over 12 dates for an average of 962. The Bison are averaging 1,046 fans over two matches this year.
TOUGH NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: North Dakota State's non-conference schedule is among the toughest it has faced since beginning Division I play. Five of the first seven matches were against NCAA tournament teams from a year ago, two more await in November, and 12 matches are against teams ranked in the top 100 of last year's NCAA Rating Percentage Index. Minnesota was ranked 10th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll and Pepperdine has also been among the Top 25 all season. Oklahoma and Wichita State were receiving votes in the poll the week of their matches with NDSU. The Bison ranked as high as 40th before finishing 42nd in last year's NCAA RPI.
LAMBERTSON SELECTED TO A2 PROGRAM: North Dakota State senior middle hitter Megan Lambertson was one of 48 athletes selected by USA Volleyball to participate in last summer's U.S. Women's National A2 Team Program. South Dakota State middle hitter Kelli Fiegen was the only other Summit League player selected. NDSU's Brynn Joki was an alternate.
BISON PICKED FIRST IN SUMMIT: For the fourth straight year, North Dakota State was the preseason favorite to win The Summit League in a vote of the league's head coaches. NDSU collected six of the nine first-place votes ahead of second-place Fort Wayne, which had the other three votes. Oakland and South Dakota State tied for third place, IUPUI was fifth, and South Dakota, Kansas City, Western Illinois and Omaha rounded out the poll in order.
FOUR STRAIGHT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS: North Dakota State won its fourth straight Summit League regular-season title last year with a 16-2 record in league play. NDSU won outright titles with a 16-0 record in 2008 and an 18-0 mark in 2009 before tying with Fort Wayne for the 2010 championship with a 14-4 mark. NDSU tied for second place at 12-4 in 2007.
THE COACH: Kari Thompson (Green Bay, 2003) has a 39-21 record in her second full season as head coach at North Dakota State. Thompson was NDSU's top assistant her first 4 1/2 seasons before taking over as interim head coach in October 2010. She went 9-2 in her interim role and has guided the Bison to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. Thompson was a 2010 recipient of the American Volleyball Coaches Association's "Thirty Under 30" award recognizing the top young coaches in the country. She was a three-year letterwinner at Green Bay, stayed one year as a volunteer assistant with the Phoenix, and spent two years as a graduate assistant for volleyball operations at Alabama before coming to NDSU in 2006.
THE SUMMIT LEAGUE: This is North Dakota State's sixth year in The Summit League after reclassifying from Division II and spending three seasons as a Division I independent. Other members are Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC); University of Nebraska-Omaha; Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.; University of South Dakota; South Dakota State University; and Western Illinois University. The Summit League dropped from 10 teams to nine this year with the addition of Omaha from Division II and the departure of Southern Utah to the Big Sky Conference and Oral Roberts to the Southland Conference.