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BSU volleyball picked 14th in NSIC

BURNSVILLE -- The Bemidji State volleyball team has been picked to finish 14th in the 2013 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll, which was released by the league Thursday.

The Beavers, who finished 4-23 overall and 2-18 in conference play last season, return 10 players to the 2013 roster, led by junior captain Rachel Craig.

Craig, a 6-foot middle hitter from Wadena, played in all 27 matches for the Beavers last season and had 158 kills -- second on the team behind Bethany Thompson.

Despite finishing with only four wins last season the Beavers will get a boost with a more experienced team this season. Thompson was the lone senior on the squad last season and the only significant loss for the team.

Additionally, this season's squad has five juniors, six sophomores and four freshmen -- and no seniors.

Despite that, most of those juniors and sophomores saw a lot of playing time last season. They'll be more experienced than most teams with that many underclassmen.

That should help them improve their win-loss record in the tough NSIC, which features six-time defending NCAA Division II National Champion Concordia-St. Paul.

The Golden Bears were named the No. 1 team in the conference for the 10th straight season and received 15 of 16 first-place votes.

Minnesota Duluth received the only other first-place vote and placed second in the poll. UMD senior outside hitter Kate Lange was named the conference's preseason player of the year. Southwest Minnesota State was selected third.

The Beavers were picked 14th, behind St. Cloud State and ahead of Minot State and University of Mary.

Bemidji State opens their 2013 season Sept 6 with four matches at the Maryville Tournament in St. Louis. They'll take on hosts Maryville in two of the matches and will also take on Missouri Baptist and St. Ambrose.

BSU begins its NSIC schedule Sept. 19 at St. Cloud State before its hope opener Sept. 21 against Minnesota Duluth.