North Dakota (12-13, 7-7 Big Sky) will play four of its final six matches on the road, beginning this weekend with a swing through Sacramento State and Northern Colorado. The trip commences Saturday in California and wraps in Greeley, Colo. on Monday at the site of the 2012 Big Sky Conference tournament.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS (9-16, 5-10 Big Sky)
Sacramento State makes its success run through its defense. The Hornets lead the league in blocks (2.93 per set) and are third in the Big Sky in digs (15.68/set) ... Sacramento State boasts the top blocker in the conference (Olivia Moss, 1.42/blocks per set) and the leader in service aces (Sydney Kordic, 0.45/set) ... Three Hornets appear in the top 10 in the league in blocks (Moss, Ashley Newcomb- 6th, Kayla Beal- 9th) ... UND posted a miraculous comeback from a 17-4 deficit in the third set en route to a 3-1 win back on Sept. 29 in Grand Forks .. In their last outing, Sacramento State led Northern Colorado two sets to none, but the Bears tallied three straight set wins to take the victory on Thursday.
SCOUTING THE BEARS (17-8, 10-5 Big Sky)
Northern Colorado tops the conference in hitting percentage, recording a .251 clip ... Leader Brianna Strong sports the league's best hitting percentage (.365) while teammate Andrea Spaustat is fourth in the BSC with a .349 hit percentage ... Another key weapon in NC's offensive arsenal is Kelley Arnold, who is fourth in the conference in kills (3.47 kills/set) ... NC's five-set win on Thursday helped shake-up a stretch that saw the Bears drop three of its previous four matches ... UNC-- who won last season's Big Sky tournament-- have already earned a match in the postseason tournament and hosting duties, but one more win would clinch a spot in the top six avoiding a play-in scenario ... The Bears held-off UND for a five-set victory at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center back on Oct. 1.
FINAL HOME STAND ON THE HORIZON
UND will close out the home portion of its schedule next week when it hosts Portland State and Northern Colorado on Nov. 8 and 10, respectively. This season will have a rarity without a senior send off as the North Dakota roster is void of a single senior.
This weekend will mark the eighth week of Big Sky Conference play for North Dakota. UND has split in each of the first seven series this season, winning one and falling against the other opponent. UND is one of five teams to not have been swept in a weekly conference series, all four of the other teams to boast that are headed to the conference tournament.
BATTLING FOR POSITIONING
UND has held steady in the fifth spot in the Big Sky standings as each of the top six teams at the regular season's end earn a postseason conference tournament berth. The Kelly Green will play three teams ahead of them in the standings (Northern Colorado, Portland State, Northern Arizona) and have three more (Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Southern Utah) against schools fighting to get in.
WHERE THEY RANK
Several North Dakota players find themselves among the league leaders in their respective statistical category heading into Saturday's match. Here is a look at where they rank:
Assists- 3rd- Nikki Husfeldt (10.91)
Digs- 4th- Lauren Clarke (4.25/set)
Kills- 5th- Lexi Robinson (3.36/set)
Service Aces- 5th- Felicia Ulrich (0.32/set)
Hitting Percentage- 7th- Ronni Munkeby (.304)
A PAIR OF HELPERS
North Dakota has a pair of current players climbing the charts in the career assists category in the school's all-time record book. Sophomore Nikki Husfeldt (Andover, Minn.) already ranks eighth all-time in career helpers while teammate junior Ellen Krueger (Lakeville, Minn.) is set to crack the top 10 very soon. A look below at the top 10 marks for career assists at UND:
1. Holly Welter (1999-02) 4,698
2. Julie Kerr (1985-88) 4,025
3. Lisa Luebke (1989-92) 3,277
4. Megan Langseth (2006-09) 2,952
5. Lori Unger (1994-97) 2,860
6. Jamie Skadeland (2001-04) 2,791
7. Allison Louwagie (2005-07) 2,496
8. Nikki Husfeldt (2010-pres.) 2,399
9. Jennifer Olson (1994-96) 1,310
10. Denise Gross (1989-93) 1,221
-- Ellen Krueger (2011-pres.) 1,133
UND ON TV
Midco Sports Network will televise three UND volleyball games as part of its broadcast deal that includes football, men's hockey, women's hockey, men's basketball and women's basketball. First-place Portland State rounds out the TV schedule on Nov. 8 for the UND volleyball team. Dan Hammer and Danny Luetzen have the call. Check MidcoSports.com for channel availability in your area.
BIG SKY TV
All UND home matches and every Big Sky road match will be available via free video webcast through Big Sky TV. Go to UNDSports.com for more details.