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Bemidji HS Friday preview: Soccer, volleyball teams open regular season

The Bemidji High School soccer teams will enjoy the home spotlight today when they host Little Falls in a varsity doubleheader.

The girls will open the day with a 4 p.m. match while the boys varsity will tangle with the Flyers at 6 p.m.

Both matches will be played at the Middle School field.

The volleyball team will also be in action today as it travels to Perham for its season opener.

"We are going to have a young team and I don't know exactly what to expect," said girls soccer coach Kelly Schoonover.

The girls will continue their weekend schedule Saturday at Walker and Tuesday sees them visiting Moorhead.

They return home Sept. 2 against Detroit Lakes and Sept. 7 against East Grand Forks. Other home appearances in September will be Sept. 18 against Brainerd, Sept. 21 against Moorhead and Sept. 27 against Grand Rapids.

Among the veterans returning this fall are senior forwards Andrea Hanson and Alexa Wang plus junior forward Caitlin Blotske.

The midfielders include sophomores Erin Booth and Josie Spry plus eighth grader Sierra Anderson. Senior Paige Niskanen returns as the stopper while freshman Paige Moen will see action as the sweeper.

The defense includes juniors Kiah Hartung and Rachel Oustad while junior Whitney Morin and freshman Casey Palmer will split the goalie duties.

The boys squad will open the year with three home matches. Following today's match against Little Falls the Jacks will host Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 3 p.m. Saturday and close the homestand 5 p.m. Tuesday against Detroit Lakes.

Other home appearances in September include matches against East Grand Forks (Sept. 9), Crookston (Sept. 16), Hibbing (Sept. 23), Apollo (Sept. 25) and Moorhead (Sept. 28).

Coach Rick Toward is expecting the Jacks to build upon last fall's 12-5-1 record and believes they can advance in the section playoffs.

The offensive playmakers include senior Max Hazelton, junior Kyle Fodness and sophomores Riley Brooks and Isak Sommer.

Expected to start in the middle are senior Luke Upgren and sophomore Austin Kovach while anchoring the defense will be seniors Tanner Koetter and Tony Smith plus juniors Nick Gorick and Ian Sweeney Smith.

Junior Carl Graefe, sophomore Connor McNallan and freshman Matt Bitter are vying for time in the net.

"I think we should be better than last year," Toward said. "If we play to the level I know we can, we should have a good season."

Tonight's match represents the starting point of what coach Teresa Colligan believes will be another successful campaign.

"After this match we will have almost a week before we play again and that will give us a few practices to make any necessary adjustments prior to our next match," Colligan said.

"We've gone against some very good teams in our two scrimmages and I've seen improvement both offensively and defensively."

Home fans will have their first opportunity to see the Jacks Sept. 2 when BHS hosts Detroit Lakes. Other home appearances in September will be Sept. 7 against Deer River, Sept. 13 against Dilworth-Glyndon Felton, Sept. 16 against Grand Forks Red River, Sept 23 against Roseau and Sept. 30 against Grand Rapids.

Today's projected lineup will see Jess Yost and Allie Heifort in the middle, Caitlin Hadrava on the right side, Liz Hirt and Kellie Morehouse outside, Meghan Wannebo as the libero, Jenna Sagedahl as the setter and Nicole McDonald as the defensive specialist.

Notably absent is senior Kayla Hirt who is sidelined with a knee injury. Hirt, who tore a ligament during AAU basketball late in the summer, will have her knee re-examined on Sept. 2. Depending upon the extent of the tear, Hirt could return to the volleyball court later this fall or she could have surgery and miss the entire season.

"We'll know one way or another after Sept. 2," Colligan said.

"Our goal tonight is to be competitive and find out the areas we need to work on," the coach added.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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