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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 04 2012

Bison volleyball needs push to make Summit tournament

FARGO – North Dakota State is hosting the Summit League championships in volleyball in the middle of November. At their current pace, the Bison have some work to do or Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse may not have much of a tournament atmosphere.

The Bison are 2-4 in the conference with South Dakota and Missouri-Kansas City coming in this weekend to close the first half of the conference schedule. The top four teams qualify for the tournament, of which the site is determined by the previous year’s regular-season champion.

“We can’t look too far into the future, but we’re planning on being at the Summit League tournament,” said senior middle hitter Megan Lambertson. “There’s urgency, but I feel like if everyone is on the same page, it will go well.”

At 5-11 overall, it’s been a different stretch of 16 matches for the veteran players like Lambertson. NDSU also starts four-year players Brynn Joki and Andrea Henning and has a senior transfer in setter Catherine Yager.

“It’s been a learning experience, that’s for sure,” said NDSU head coach Kari Thompson. “You get used to winning, which they’ve had most of their entire careers. It’s something they don’t want to get used to but there’s definitely a different taste in the mouth. Hopefully, we can put together some solid play this weekend and move on from there.”

They got better last weekend in a split at Oakland University (Mich.) and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, Thompson said.

The USD game tonight is the beginning of a five-match homestand that also includes a nonconference clash with the University of North Dakota next Tuesday.

“We’ve handled it and we came to practice ready to go,” Lambertson said. “A loss is a loss and we can only get better.”

Statistically, the Bison are in the middle of the pack in the major categories like hitting percentage, kills and digs. Victory-wise, just getting into the top four is the goal.

“That’s a big priority for us right now,” Thompson said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.