VOLLEYBALL: Black Ice 16U begins national tournament Monday
BEMIDJI — Bemidji’s 16U Black Ice volleyball team, which includes Lumberjack athletes Emily Falldorf, Lauren Rickers, Katie Buckanaga and Brylee Colligan, heads to Minneapolis Monday for first-round action of the four-day national tournament.
Coached by former BSU player Alicia Kriens, the Black Ice qualified for the 48-team national meet by placing in the top six of a regional tournament in March.
“The top five teams from the regional advanced to the national tournament but when one of them couldn’t go, we were invited as the first alternate,” Kriens said. “We are very excited. Our team is talented and, with the national tournament being held in Minneapolis, this is a great opportunity for us to test ourselves against the best. And we want to make the most of this opportunity.”
All four of the Bemidji athletes on the squad are juniors and are veterans of the Bemidji High School programs. Falldorf and Rickers are middle hitters, Buckanaga is a setter and Colligan is an outside hitter. Bemidji’s team also includes two athletes from Fosston, two from Roseau, one from Frazee and one from Sebeka.
The tournament format features rotating pool play each of the first three days. On the final day of competition the teams will be placed into a bracket that includes teams with similar overall records and pool-play success.
“Based on how we do each day, we will move into a different pool,” Kriens said. “Each day of the tournament we will play against teams with about the same record as ours.”
The Black Ice 16U team has been practicing since January and Kriens is eager to see how the squad will fare.
“I think we will do well,” the coach said. “Our goal is to finish in the top half of our pool each day. We also want to give 100 percent effort every match and if we do that we will be satisfied. We don’t know anything about the other teams so all we can do is play our best and see what happens.”