ST. PAUL -- The Bemidji State University volleyball team was picked to finish 12th in the Preseason Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference poll released Thursday.
The Beavers finished last season in ninth place after notching an 8-12 record in conference play.
The 2010 squad features 10 returnees who will look for guidance under first-year coach Wayne Chadwick, who comes to BSU from the University of Tulsa where he served as an assistant for three seasons.
The Beavers will look for leadership from senior middle blocker Nicole Olson, who was selected as one of 14 Players to Watch in the NSIC for the upcoming season.
Olson made the all-conference team as an honorable selection in 2009 after accumulating a team-leading 333 kills and 108 blocks.
Defending national champion Concordia-St. Paul was selected to finish first in the conference.
The Golden Bears received 166 points in the Preseason poll, including 11 first-place votes. Minnesota Duluth (147) was picked second in the preseason poll and Minnesota State University, Mankato (142) was selected third.
Emily Palkert, a senior middle blocker for the Golden Bears was selected as the conference's Preseason Player of the Year.
The 2009 All-America selection helped guide the Golden Bears to an unblemished 37-0 record last season. Palkert is a three-time All-NSIC First Team selection. She had 415 kills for the Golden Bears last season while hitting .339, ranked 41st in the NCAA.
The NSIC, arguably one of the toughest conferences in NCAA Division II volleyball, returns five 2009 All-America selections this season.
The Beavers open the season Sept. 3 at the Blue Hawk Tournament in Dickinson, N.D., with matches against Montana State-Northern (3 p.m.) and Black Hills State (5 p.m.).