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Bemidji State soccer, volleyball begin seasons Friday

The Bemidji State soccer and volleyball teams begin their regular seasons tonight.

The BSU soccer team is on the road at Grand Forks to take on North Dakota at 4 p.m. and will return to Bemidji Sunday for a 3 p.m. game at BSU Soccer Field against Viterbo University in the home opener.

The BSU volleyball team is competing at the Blue Hawk Tournament hosted by Dickinson State (N.D.). The Beavers play Montana Southern at 3 p.m. and Dickinson State at 7 p.m. Friday. BSU wraps up tournament play at noon Saturday against Black Hills State and at 4 p.m. against Dickinson State.

The BSU soccer team is coming off an 11-6-2 record in 2009 and that marked the fifth season under head coach Jim Stone with 10 wins or more.

Stone's soccer players hope to reach the NSIC playoffs again this season and they are returning a number of standouts including school record setter Ashlee Ellefsen, who holds BSU's record in most career points (80) and goals (32).

The Beavers also expected to have a strong defense this season with the return of goalie Samantha Ross and defensive captain Alysha Domiano.

North Dakota and Viterbo both enter the season with 0-3 records.

Today's volleyball games mark the opening of the Wayne Chadwick era for the Beavers. Chadwick comes to BSU after serving as an assistant coach at Division I Tulsa.

BSU will likely lean on the experience of seniors Nicole Olson, Brie Groskreutz and Nicole Solum.

Olson will likely pace the offense again in kills this season, Groskreutz will anchor the back line with her defense and Solumn will pitch in with her all around play at the net.

The notable loss to start the season is the absence of standout setter Courtney Bitter, who transferred to North Dakota in the offseason. Junior Jessi-Beth McCannell will likely start the season as BSU's primary setter after spot duties in that role last season.

It could be a record-breaking weekend for BSU. Groskreutz is nine digs shy of becoming Bemidji State's all-time leader.

Olson needs 10 kills to break into BSU's all-time top 10 list in that category.