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Bemidji HS volleyball open new season at home against Perham

The Bemidji High volleyball team opens its new campaign tonight, hosting the Perham Yellowjackets at 7:15 at the field house.

The preliminaries start at 5:45 with the freshmen in the auxiliary gym and the JV in the main gym.

There will be no B Team game with Perham lacking the numbers to field four units.

Perham will pose a good test for Bemidji which is coming back from an excellent 21-9 campaign in 2008, again sidelined in the section semifinals by SMA. a team that went on to take third place at the state.

Perham, long an 8-2A power, beat Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes in last year's sectional before falling to champion Wadena in the semifinals.

The Jackets dominated the section the 1990s winning the title six times.

But they have not reached the state since 1998 in a decade dominated by Baudette and DGF.

They handed Bemidji a straight set loss last year 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 and repeated the win later at the Alexandria Invitational 25-18, 12-25, 15-9.

Bemidji graduated five players from last year's cast but returns seven of the nine underclassmen who lettered and is looking forward to another good season.

Six of the sever were regulars in Coach Teresa Colligan's rotation.

They include seniors Kelsey Heisler, Abby Hendricks, Erika Weimann and the Homer twins Brooke and Courtney and juniors Kayla Hirt and Megan Wannebo.

A major addition will be freshman middle hitter Jess Yost who handled that spot well in 2008 with the JV unit as an eighth grader.

She and Hirt will give Bemidji a pair of 6-2 threats inside which should pose serious problems for all opponents. Heisler and Hendricks are strong corner spikers while Brooke Homer will take over the setter's role from departed Megan Gullickson.

Bemidji more than held its own in a scrimmage at Alexandria where Colligan was well pleased with the results against several of the area's top ranked opponents.

She sees Alex and Moorhead as the top threats to Bemidji in the section with SMA graduating 13 seniors last season.

Courtney Bitter, Bemidji's premier performer in 2007, has been working with the setters and servers through the summer. Colligan predicts at least three servers will use Bitter's famed jump serve effectively this season.

Bemidji swept all three preliminaries at Perham last year but all three were close, the JV match extended to three sets.

Colligan begins her eighth season at the helm with a 120-66 record and seven winning campaigns. Three of them saw Bemidji top the 20 win mark.

Nettie Homer is back as varsity assistant with Heather Anderson returning to head the JV team.

There is a switch at the two lower spots. LeeAnn Johnson will guide the freshmen this year with ex-Bemidji regular Lindsey Gullickson moving in to coach the B Team. Gullickson, who played two seasons at Wahpeton Science, is now attending BSU.

As in recent years, Colligan will go with the top eight, dressing two more each night from the JV unit to fill out the team. There also might be some doubling between the JV and B Teams.

Allie Heifort and Nicole McDonald will fill those roles tonight.

They will be among nine JV performers with 10 playing with the B Team and 15 with the freshmen.

The team travels to Fergus and Detroit Lakes Tuesday and Thursday next week, the first of nine straight road games before Brainerd plays here Sept. 22.