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North Dakota sits in a tie for first place in the Big Sky Conference heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Sights set on first Big Sky title this week
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Updated: Sunday 11/21/2013 14:28:08 (ET)
by Mitch Wigness, UND Media Relations
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Northern Arizona at North Dakota
Thursday, Nov. 21- 7:00 p.m.
TV: MidcoSN, Fox College Sports (623 DirecTV)
WatchBigSky.com

Southern Utah at North Dakota
Saturday, Nov. 23- 4:00 p.m.
WatchBigSky.com

ON TAP

North Dakota wraps up its regular season this week, hosting Northern Arizona Thursday and Southern Utah in Saturday’s finale. UND is attempting to secure the school’s first Big Sky Conference regular season championship in just its second year in the league.

SWEET DEAL
UND fans will have the opportunity to not only cheer on its team as it chases a Big Sky title this weekend, but will also have a chance to secure tickets for next season at a great price. Fans attending this week's matches against Northern Arizona and Southern Utah can purchase season tickets for the 2014 season for just $20 a ticket. This promotion is only good in person Thursday and Saturday night at the Betty. You can get more information and order season tickets at the Betty box office on the night of the games, and the box office will remain open the entire game.

QUICK SETS
*North Dakota secured its 20th win of the season Saturday at Eastern Washington.
*It was the 13th all-time season with 20 or more wins, a record four of those are under coach Ashley Hardee.
*UND’s 15 conference wins this season are the most in school history.
*North Dakota earned its 11th win via a sweep in the win at EWU Saturday.
*UND is 19-4 following a 1-6 start to the season.

SCOUTING THE LUMBERJACKS
NAU sits in a tie for third place in the Big Sky Conference standings at 13-5 and is gunning for one of the top two seeds in the upcoming tournament ... Thursday’s match features the top two teams in the league in hitting percentage (UND .249 and NAU .239) ... Its also a match up of the top two squads in lowest opponent hitting percentage allowed (NAU .175, UND .186) ... UND and NAU are tied atop the Big Sky stats in blocking as well (1.64/set) ... Taylor Stephens and Payton Bock are fifth (.312) and ninth (.272) in hitting in the Big Sky ... Stephens sets the pace in the league in blocking (1.26/set) ... NAU won the previous meeting, 3-0, Oct. 19 in Flagstaff ... The Jacks are 3-0 all-time against UND.

SCOUTING THE THUNDERBIRDS
SUU is 4-25 overall and 3-15 in conference heading into the final weekend ... Southern Utah is last in the conference in kills (10.46.set) and allows the most kills by opponents (13.89/set) ... The T’birds allow just 2.09 blocks per set to its opponents, the least in the Big Sky ... Taylor Heine is fifth in the conference in blocking with a 1.18 blocks per set average ... North Dakota is 5-1 all-time against SUU.

TOURNEY UPDATE
Five of the six tournament spots are already locked up with none of the seeds set in stone. Portland State and North Dakota (15-3) are in the driver’s seat with a two-game lead on both Northern Arizona and Idaho State (11-5) with two matches to play. Montana is in the field at 10-8 and can finish either fifth or sixth. Sacramento State (9-9) and Northern Colorado (8-10) are still in the running for the final spot.

TIEBREAKER SCENARIOS FOR NORTH DAKOTA
Portland State holds the tiebreaker over UND by virtue of a +14 point margin in their matches. The teams split the series with each winning five sets, but PSU had a higher combined point total in the sets to earn the advantage. UND would hold a tiebreaker with Idaho State after sweeping the Bengals this season.

IT’S IN THE BAG
North Dakota became the first team to clinch a berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Six teams will converge on Portland, Ore. Nov. 29-30 for the postseason tournament with an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line.

YA DIG?
Sophomore libero Lauren Clarke (Naperville, Ill.) is on the verge of a record-setting pace for career digs. Clarke already has 997 digs in her two seasons at UND and would become just the 15th player to surpass 1,000 digs in a North Dakota uniform. She would be the first to do so as a sophomore. Take a look at the PDF release for the dig leaders through their sophomore seasons:

ROARING 20s
UND head coach Ashley Hardee has ushered UND to another 20-win campaign, the 13th 20-win season all-time at North Dakota. Hardee has four in his five seasons at the helm, more than any other coach in program history.:

20-win seasons
Ashley Hardee (4 in 5 seasons)
Lisa Kissee (3 in 7 seasons)
Carol Cooke (2 in 7 seasons)
Maria Bruggeman (2 in 8 seasons)
Kari Peterson (2 in 2 seasons)

HUSFELDT’S HELPERS
Junior Nikki Husfeldt recorded a new career high with 65 assists in the five-set win at Idaho State Nov. 1. She followed up with 47 assists the next night to push her over 1,000 for the season.

GRAND PLAYERS?
Senior Ronni Munkeby (Lisbon, N.D./Lisbon) is moving up the career kill leaders chart at UND, moving into 13th place last week. She is just 61 kills shy of cracking the top 10. Fellow senior Lisa Parlich (Delavan, Wis.) remains just 48 kills away from becoming the 16th member of the 1,000-kill club at UND.

Career kill leaders at UND
1. Karla Danielson    1,732
10. Britta Hanson    1,141
11. Kristi Rasmussen    1,137
12. Jody Paperno    1,085
13. Ronni Munkeby    1,080
14. Renee Larson    1,039
15. Aileen Cahill    1,022
--  Lisa Parlich    952

YOU BETTY RECOGNIZE
North Dakota is 76-37 all-time at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which opened prior to the 2004 season.  Since 2008, UND is a staggering 54-11 (.831) including a school-record 13 wins in 2011.

RECORD REWIND
The University of North Dakota volleyball program holds a 613-718-3 (.461) record all-time since the first game was played on Sept. 22, 1976. Under head coach Ashley Hardee, UND is 108-43 (.721).

APPROACHING MILESTONES
*Lisa Parlich sits at 952 kills entering the weekend.
*If Parlich reaches the mark, her and Ronni Munkeby (1,085)  would be just the third UND teammates to have 1,000 kills in the same season (2003- Emily Tuve, Heather Hanson & 2011- Devin Trefz, Annika Smed).
*Lauren Clarke is also at 997 digs and aims to become the 15th UND player to reach 1,000 in their career.
*Nikki Husfeldt already has 3,871 assists in her UND career.

DYNAMIC DUO
Two University of North Dakota volleyball student-athletes have been recognized for their hard work in the classroom in addition to their on-court achievements as senior Ronni Munkeby (Lisbon, N.D.) and sophomore Lauren Clarke (Naperville, Ill./Waubonsie) were each named to the 2013 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. Capital One has been the entitlement rights holder to CoSIDA’s Academic All-America teams programs since 2011.

The Academic All-District® teams are divided into eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada. Honorees are chosen from NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III participants, while the College Division team combines NAIA, Canadian and two‐year schools. District 6 is comprised of schools located in Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

First-team Academic All‐District® honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first‐, second‐ and third‐team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

600 SERIES
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. With a win on Saturday at Weber State, Hardee moved into third place on the UND coaching wins list. 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)
Ashley Hardee     108 wins (5th season)
Carol Cooke        105 wins (7 seasons)

PIOSKE’S PLAUDITS
Freshman Anna Pioske recorded 44 combined kills in a pair of road wins for North Dakota at Idaho State and Weber State, earning her Big Sky Conference Player of the Week accolades as announced by league officials Nov. 4. Pioske tallied a career-best 23 finishes in a five-set win at Idaho State and added 21 the following night at Weber State.

For the week, Pioske averaged 4.89 kills, 1.78 digs and 1.0 blocks per set. She hit .341 with 44 kills on 91 attempts with 13 errors. She becomes the third UND honoree as Ronni Munkeby won back-to-back awards on Sep. 23 and 30.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHTED...TWICE
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.

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 TOURNEY ON RADIO
All UND matches at this year’s Big Sky Tournament will be broadcast live on KKXL 1440-AM in Grand Forks. Times will be announced following the regular season’s completion and the determination of seeding.

WATCHBIGSKY.com
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.

 

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