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Jeff Kolpack and Kevin Schnepf / Forum sports reporters, Published October 21 2010

Bison volleyball: Bison assistant Thompson steps in as interim head coach in wake of Hinterstocker’s resignation

On Wednesday, the North Dakota State volleyball coaches and players were still numb and mum.

One day after head coach Erich Hinterstocker announced his resignation, a press conference with interim head coach Kari Thompson and players Lauren McLaughlin and Chrissy Knuth took a detour. Only women’s athletic director Lynn Dorn was made available at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse.

“Kari Thompson had every intention of being here, but I think you can be very respectful and understand how emotional this is for her,” Dorn said. “Her colleague, best friend at a professional and personal level is not here to lead the Bison volleyball program.

“We were also really hopeful a couple of student athletes would feel comfortable to be here ... and it’s not comfortable. It still is real fresh, still real raw. It’s a different day in the Bison volleyball program.”

Not only is the coach who successfully guided the Bison through the transition to Division I gone, the Bison are uncharacteristically not sitting on top of The Summit League standings.

NDSU is coming off back-to-back losses at Oakland University and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne – a first such sweep a Bison team suffered since joining The Summit.

Entering this weekend’s home matches against Western Illinois and Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis, the Bison sit in third place with an 8-3 record and an 11-9 overall record.

“If you look in the rear-view mirror, you’re going to crash and these kids know that,” Dorn said. “It’s forward movement. This adversity might call for a complete change around here. We might dedicate this season to a very different purpose and I think Kari will manage that.”

The news traveled well beyond Bentson Bunker.

Kelley Hartley Hutton, whose Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne team knocked off the Bison in last year’s Summit League championship, heard the news of Hinterstocker’s resignation before her team’s Tuesday night volleyball match.

“This news really saddens me,” she said. “The league lost a really good coach. He set a very high bar in our league. This is a huge loss for North Dakota State and our conference.”

In his fifth season at NDSU, Hinterstocker built a 95-38 record including three 20-win seasons, two Summit League championships and the school’s first NCAA Division I tournament in 2008.

Hinterstocker’s Bison set a Summit League record of 42 straight regular-season wins – a streak that came to an end three weeks ago.

“They set an amazing standard in this league … we are aspiring to be at that level,” said Oakland head coach Rob Beam. “From my vantage point, Erich created a high level of expectation and his teams have fulfilled that. Winning is hard. Being that consistently good is extremely difficult.”

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or kschnepf@forumcomm.com and Forum sports writer Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546 or jkolpack@forumcomm.com