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Bemidji St. volleyball splits opening matches

KEARNEY, Neb. -- The Bemidji State University volleyball squad split its 2009 season opener at the Best Western/Runza Fall Classic, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

The Beavers (1-1, 0-0 NSIC) fell to No. 6 Nebraska-Kearney 3-0, but rebounded to defeat Newman University (Kan.), 3-0,

The game scores in the loss to Kearney were 25-18, 25-15 and 25-15.

The game scores in the win over Newman were 25-23, 25-17, 25-17.

"In the second match we relaxed and started playing our offense," head volleyball coach Laurie Bitter said. "We got better as the day went on. In the last two sets we really started to play well. Hopefully tomorrow we can come out of the tournament with a 3-1 record."

The Lopers lived-up to their No. 6 ranking in the first match, outplaying the Beavers, as the team tried to get their bearings. UNK's defense did not allow a BSU player to reach double digits in kills.

Junior Nicole Olson led the Beavers with nine kills. Sophomore Courtney Bitter dished out 21 set assists in the match.

BSU turned the tables in the second match of the day with a 3-0 sweep of the Jets.

The Beavers out-hit NU with a .219 attacking percentage to the Jets' .065.

Bitter recorded her first double-double of the season and the eighth of her career with 32 set assists and 11 digs.

Freshman Bethany Thompson and sophomore Laura Slinger shared the kill lead in the match with 10 each. Junior transfer Samantha Hertaus led the team in digs with 18.

BSU completes the two-day tournament tomorrow against Rockhurst (Mo.) at 10 a.m. and Fort Hays State 2:30 p.m.