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Volleyball set to compete in first Big Sky tourney
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Updated: Wednesday 11/22/2012 14:08:21 (ET)
by Mitch Wigness, UND Media Relations
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ON TAP
North Dakota (15-16, 10-10 Big Sky) will make its first-ever trek to the Big Sky Conference Tournament, a six-team field that converges on the campus of defending-champion Northern Colorado Friday and Saturday. UND, the five seed in the tourney, draws the fourth-seeded Bears of UNC in the opener with the winner advancing to a semifinal match later that evening.
 
THE ROAD AHEAD
UND will not have an easy path at the Big Sky Conference Tournament. North Dakota will face the defending champion Northern Colorado Bears on their home floor in the quarterfinals and then could potentially match-up with Portland State, another team with a strong pedigree in taking home Big Sky titles. A look at the last 10 Big Sky Conference Tourney winners:

2011- Northern Colorado
2010- Portland State
2009- Northern Colorado
2008- Portland State
2007- Sacramento State

HIGH FIVE
Among the 10 matches played against teams playing in the Big Sky Tournament, UND has gone five sets in half of those matches. North Dakota will look to avenge those opportunities as each come out on the side of the opponent. Overall against the other five teams, UND has a 1-9 record but has won 14 sets in those matches combined as they’ll aim to turn close defeats into wins in the postseason.

BRIEFLY SCOUTING THE FIELD
#1- PORTLAND STATE
PSU is vying for its third postseason title in the past five years ... PSU won the regular season title outright with a 3-1 win over Idaho State in the regular season finale ... The Vikings allow opponents just a .164 hitting percentage on average, the lowest among Big Sky teams this season ... One of UND’s most impressive wins all season was a 3-0 sweep of Portland State on Nov. 8 in Grand Forks ... UND dominated that affair, winning 25-22, 25-21, 25-17.

#2- IDAHO STATE
 ISU is second in the league in hitting (.244) ... Bengals have lost two straight heading into the championships (at Eastern Washington, at PSU) ... ISU has two players appearing in the top eight in hitting percentage in the conference (Jaclyn Hone, 5th, .308 and Whitney Bartschi, 8th, .277) .... ISU defeated UND twice this season, 3-1 at home and 3-0 in Grand Forks.

#3 NORTHERN ARIZONA
NAU is the third-best hitting team in the league heading into the championships (.243) ... UND lost both battles with the Lumberjacks this season .... North Dakota had a valiant comeback to reach a fifth set in the Nov. 15 loss at NAU in their last meeting.

#4- NORTHERN COLORADO
The Bears, by virtue of their conference tourney title a season ago, will play host to the two-day championships ...  NC leads the conference in hitting percentage at .250 ... Hitter Brianna Strong ended the regular season as the top hitter (percentage-wise) in the conference (.375) ... Andrea Spaustat is fourth in the Big Sky in hitting as well (.327) ... UNC won both matches against UND this year, but both went to five sets.

#6- MONTANA STATE
The Bobcats held off their rival Montana on Monday to slide into the final spot in the tourney seedings .... Sarah Horton easily led the conference in kills, tallying 484 for the season with a 4.21 kills per set average ... MSU won a pair of five-set affairs against UND this season.

PARLICH BIG SKY POW FOR NOV. 12
Junior co-captain Lisa Parlich was named Big Sky Conference Volleyball Co-Player of the Week on Nov. 13, becoming the first North Dakota player to earn the weekly volleyball award after a standout week that saw UND earn a berth in the conference postseason tournament. The junior from Delavan, Wis. hit .305 for the week and had 15 total blocks as UND earned its first-ever Big Sky weekend sweep (Thursday vs. Portland State, Saturday vs. Eastern Washington). She started the week with a 17-kill, 4-block performance at Northern Colorado Monday in a close five-set loss to the Bears. Thursday, her 10 kills and four blocks were key in North Dakota handing Portland State just its third conference loss of the season. Saturday, after just two kills in the first two sets, Parlich recorded six kills and seven total blocks (1 solo, six assisted) over the final two sets. In that final set, UND rebounded from an 11-4 deficit and fought off seven different set-point opportunities for Eastern Washington before eventually winning, 33-31.

MUNKEBY EARNS CoSIDA HONOR
2012 Capital One Academic All-District® Volleyball First Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The program recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

First-team Academic All-District® honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team ballot, to be selected later this month.

Munkeby-- a 4.0 grade point average student in physical education, exercise science and wellness-- is the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President at UND and a Dean’s List member. She was the recipient of the 2011-12 UND Female Sioux Service Award, volunteering for several organizations: including the Big Event, Altru Spin for Kids, Special Olympics, Grand Forks Public Library, Girl Scouts and more.

UND SEASON NOTES (15-16)
North Dakota was picked to finish fourth in the Preseason Big Sky Coaches Poll ... UND returns nine athletes from a season ago and welcomes 11 new faces to the roster, including a pair of transfers ... UND does not have a senior on its roster ... North Dakota is 88-32 in head coach Ashley Hardee’s tenure (4th season) ... UND is in its first season in the Big Sky Conference ... While a member of the Great West Conference, North Dakota won all three GWC postseason tournaments and two regular season titles.

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GOING THE LONG ROUTE
North Dakota fought-off seven different set-point attempts by Eastern Washington in earning a 33-31 victory in the fourth set to take a 3-1 win in the home finale on Nov. 10. EWU had an opportunity to even the match at two sets apiece on seven different occasions with service but UND was able to side out each time and with the score 31-30 EWU, scored three straight points to end it. The 33-31 score (14 extra points) was the longest set in UND history since the NCAA moved to rally scoring in 2001.

RECORD REWIND
The University of North Dakota volleyball program holds a 592-702-3 (.458) record all-time since the first game was played on Sept. 22, 1976. Under head coach Ashley Hardee, UND is 88-32 (.746).

YOU BETTY RECOGNIZE
North Dakota is 67-34 (.663) all-time at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which opened prior to the 2004 season.  Since 2008, UND is a staggering 45-8 (.849) including a school-record 13 wins a season ago.

IT’S BEEN AWHILE
The Oct. 9 win at North Dakota State was UND’s first in Fargo since 1976. UND has now won back-to-back games in the series-- one that NDSU dominates. The Bison have a 69-6 record over UND since that 1976 match. Ashley Hardee became the first UND coach to defeat NDSU more than once since Polly West did so twice in that 1976 campaign.

MUNKEBY ALL-TOURNEY AGAIN
Junior Ronni Munkeby was honored with her second all-tournament accolade on Sept. 8 when she was named to the Magnolia Invitational All-Tournament team Saturday at Ole Miss. She was also an all-tourney member in the season-opening Texas A&M Invitational (Aug. 24-25).

RONNI HONORED
Junior co-captain Ronni Munkeby was named to the 2012 Texas A&M Invitational All-Tournament Team after her performance against teams that were all NCAA tournament teams a season ago.  Munkeby recorded 24 kills and 17 total blocks for the three matches combined, including a season-high 10 kills and seven blocks in the win over Texas State. The Lisbon, N.D. product leads UND in hitting percentage (.340) on the young season.

100 IN D1
Another milestone was reached on Sept. 1 as UND etched its 100th win in the Division I era. North Dakota needed just 127 matches to reach the triple-digit win total, winning 78.7 percent of its games since transitioning to NCAA Division I prior to the 2008-09 season.

HIGH FIVE
The fifth-ranked team in the nation, Southern California, had to sweat-out a 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 win over UND in the season opener for both teams.  North Dakota outhit the talented Trojans in the first set (.296-.289) but USC hit .301 for the match to escape the upset. USC went undefeated at the Texas A&M Invitational to take the team title.

GREAT WEST DOMINANCE
North Dakota was a full member of the Great West Conference for the past three seasons and took home plenty of league hardware during its brief stay.  UND won every postseason GWC tournament while it was a member (2009, 2010, 2011), won a pair of regular season crowns (2009, 2010) and compiled an impressive 31-3 (.912) record in league play in three seasons.

UND JOINS BIG SKY CONFERENCE
North Dakota joined the Big Sky Conference as a full member beginning with this 2012-13 season.  UND successfully made the transition from NCAA Division II and will be eligible for NCAA postseason play this season.

UND FOURTH IN PRESEASON BSC POLL
The University of North Dakota volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.  Reigning BSC champion Northern Colorado topped the poll with 99 total points with nine of a possible 10 first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams).  Portland State grabbed a first-place vote and had 88 total points to place second.  UND had the lone other first-place nod, tallying 70 points, one point behind third-place Eastern Washington.

BIG SKY TV
All Big Sky Conference tournament matches road match will be available via free video webcast through Big Sky TV.  Go to bigskytv.org for more details.
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