North Dakota at Southern Utah
The Big Sky Conference schedule hits the midway point this week as North Dakota travels to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. After this weekend, UND will have played all 10 other league schools and will have six of its final 10 matches at home.
UND won three matches last week, finding new ways to win and extend its winning streak. After being down 0-2 at Northern Colorado and statistically outplayed, North Dakota rallied for a spirited five-set win over the defending league champs. Thursday, UND defeated Eastern Washington, 3-0, before having to fend off a furious Portland State rally from down 0-2 for another five-set win against the Vikings Saturday.
ON THE HORIZON
North Dakota returns home to host the Montana schools. Thursday is “North Dakota Strong”, a breast cancer awareness match against Montana that will also be televised on Midco Sports Network. The week ends with a Saturday afternoon tilt against Montana State.
SCOUTING THE THUNDERBIRDS
Thursday’s match will feature the two teams with the longest current streaks in the Big Sky, UND with a nine-match winning streak and SUU with eight straight losses ... SUU ranks last in hitting percentage (.140) and kills (10.31/set) but is third in the league in blocking (2.57/set) ... Sophomore Taylor Heine is second in the Big Sky with a 1.35 blocks per set average ... UND is 4-1 all-time against SUU, including a split with each home team winning last season.
SCOUTING THE LUMBERJACKS
NAU goes into the week in a three-way tie for second place in the Big Sky, two games back of North Dakota ... The Jacks are third in the conference in hitting (.233) and allow the lowest hitting percentage against (.156) ... NAU also sets the pace in the league in blocks (2.60/set) ... Junior Taylor Stephens leads the regulars with a .361 hitting percentage and sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg tallies 3.19 kills per set to lead the way for the Lumberjacks ... Stephens’ 1.38 blocks per set average leads the Big Sky ... North Dakota lost both contests to NAU last season in the only two matches all-time between the schools.
Senior Ronni Munkeby now has 960 kills in her brilliant career at North Dakota and looks to become the 15th member of UND’s 1000-kill club. Also closing in is fellow senior Lisa Parlich, who sits at 845 kills entering the weekend. Junior Nikki Husfeldt is already third on UND’s assist list (3,477) and trails leader Holly Welter by 1,221 with a season and a half left in her career.
UND is already two wins shy of matching both last season’s overall conference win marks. North Dakota finished 2012 at 15-17 overall and 10-10 in the league, earning the fifth seed in the postseason league tournament. This season’s tournament is predetermined at Portland State with the winner of the league’s regular season earning the right to host next season’s tourney.
The University of North Dakota volleyball program holds a 606-713-3 (.460) record all-time since the first game was played on Sept. 22, 1976. Entering Thursday, under head coach Ashley Hardee, UND is 101-40 (.716).
WE’RE GOING STREAKING
UND has won a league-high nine straight matches heading into Thursday and has garnered victories in 12 of its last 13 contests. In that stretch of 13 matches, North Dakota is outhitting opponents .287 - .179 and has three regulars hitting over .380 (Lisa Parlich .413, Ronni Munkeby .384, Ellen Krueger .381).
North Dakota etched its 600th win in the program’s history with a Sep. 26 sweep of Weber State. Of those wins, 121 have come in its NCAA Division I era (since 2008).
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Head coach Ashley Hardee notched his 100th win on Thursday, Oct. 10 with a win over Eastern Washington. He already sits fourth in the UND records books for wins in program history. Here’s a look at where he stands all-time for UND coaching victories:
Lisa Kissee- 137 wins (7 seasons)
Maria Bruggeman- 124 wins (8 seasons)
Carol Cooke- 105 wins (7 seasons)
Ashley Hardee 101 wins (5th season)
YOU BETTY RECOGNIZE
North Dakota is 73-36 all-time at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which opened prior to the 2004 season. Since 2008, UND is a staggering 51-10 (.836) including a school-record 13 wins in 2011.
Senior Ronni Munkeby tallied a pair of 13-kill matches to help North Dakota to a perfect 2-0 road week at Montana State and Montana, Sep. 20-21. The Lisbon, N.D. native also added seven total blocks and a service ace on the week. She was honored as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for her efforts.
She also won the award the following week for her 29 combined kills in wins over Weber State and Idaho State. Munkeby tied a career-best with 19 kills in the win over the Bengals.
WHOOOAAA, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE....
North Dakota hit an incredible .500 as a team in the Sep. 30 win over North Dakota State. That mark was easily the best of the season and was just shy of the all-time record set back in 1991, a 3-0 trouncing of South Dakota that produced a .534 hit percentage.
UND FOURTH IN PRESEASON BIG SKY POLL
The University of North Dakota volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Reigning regular-season champion Portland State was the top vote-getter with seven first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams). Idaho State (2 first-place votes) was second with Big Sky Tournament champion Northern Colorado third. Northern Arizona finished fifth in the voting and had the other two first-place nods.
HITTING THE BOOKS
The UND volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Team Academic Award with a cumulative 3.461 grade point average last season. The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
UND ON THE INTERNET
UNDSports.com is the official online home of University of North Dakota athletics. UNDSports.com is a veritable one-stop shop for the most hard-core UND fan, featuring breaking news, feature stories, game notes, live and archived video webcasts, FREE audio, FREE live stats, podcasts, blogs, player profiles, merchandise, photo galleries, news feeds, camp registration and much, much more.
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.
UND ON TV
Midco Sports Network will televise three UND volleyball matches as part of its broadcast deal that includes football, men’s hockey, women’s hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The first televised volleyball match is the highly-anticipated in-state battle with North Dakota State on Sep. 30. An Oct. 24 Big Sky match against Montana is the second on the docket and the Nov. 21 match against Northern Arizona rounds out the TV schedule. All three matches will air in high definition. Check MidcoSports.com for channel availability in your area.