The Bemidji State University volleyball team opens the 2009 season Friday in Nebraska.
The Beavers will play four matches at the Best Western/Runza Fall Classic hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
The Beavers play No. 6 ranked Kearney at 12:15 p.m. and play Newman (Kan.) University at 4:45 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the Beavers complete the tournament against Rockhurst (Mo.) at 10 a.m. and Fort Hays State at 2:30 p.m.
The 2009 Bemidji State University volleyball team (7-24 overall, 3-17 NSIC in 2008) is a year older, a year more experienced and head coach Laurie Bitter thinks that might be just what the Beavers need to push them to the next level. Bemidji State will return four starters in 2008.
"They are hungry on the court," Bitter said. "People will say we are a young team, but to me we are an experienced team compared to what we were last year when we threw them out on to the court when they weren't ready to leave the diapers yet. We are experienced mentally, emotionally and physically, and we are much more ready than last year."
With four newcomers competing for playing time, Bemidji State will have depth at every position that the squad has lacked in recent history.
Junior outside hitter Nicole Olson returns this season after leading the Beavers in kills for the second straight season. She should pace the Beaver offense again this season.
Setting for the offense is sophomore Courtney Bitter. She averaged eight assists per game last season and led four of her hitters to at least 100 kills.
The Beavers will also welcome back junior hitter Brie Groskreutz, who redshirted the season after missing all but four games last year due to injury.
Bemidji State will stay on the road next two weekends. The Beavers are at the Florida Southern Classic in Tampa, Florida next weekend at the Concordia-St. Paul tournament on Sept. 11-12.
The Beavers home opener is Sept. 18 against MSU, Moorhead.
Also opening the regular season this weekend is the Bemidji State soccer team in Milwaukee, Wis.
The Beavers were set to open against Wisconsin-Parkside Thursday afternoon, but inclement weather postponed the match to a later date. That date has not been announced.
Bemidji State will play Cardinal Stritch Friday at noon in Milwaukee.
Bemidji State's home opener is Sept. 11 against Jamestown.