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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 13 2013

NDSU to host a four-team tourney against marquee Division I programs

FARGO – North Dakota State spent a few years scheduling volleyball opponents Louisville, Wisconsin and Northern Iowa. The Bison made road trips to all three Division I programs with the idea that all three would return to Fargo someday.

That someday will happen in a span of 48 hours next September.

NDSU will host a four-team tournament as part of one of its more attractive home schedules in the Division I era. Louisville and UNI reached the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament with the Cardinals being ranked as high as No. 9 last season.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Bison head coach Kari Thompson. “We’re going to get a little bit of everything. It’s going to be great to bring in some of the best out there in Division I.”

NDSU will have to do it with one of its youngest teams in years. The Bison will bring in eight freshmen, including setter Monica Claxton from El Paso, Texas, who was the El Paso area Setter of the Year.

The position is open because last year’s two setters are gone. Catherine Yager graduated and freshman Emily Riese from Fond du Lac, Wis., left the team.

“She was homesick and wanted to go back to Wisconsin,” Thompson said.

NDSU first noticed the 5-foot-8 Claxton at a summer tournament and Thompson said she played on a club team that did well at a national level. NDSU’s advantage in the recruiting battle was its accredited engineering program.

“She turned down other schools because they didn’t have an engineering program,” Thompson said. “We offered volleyball and academics. She visited on a minus-seven degree day and loved it.”

Freshman Ali Moody from Dickinson, N.D., will be the other setter, although Thompson said it’s possible she may redshirt next season. She is the younger sister of Bison receiver Nate Moody.

In all, NDSU will face seven NCAA tournament teams from last year. Thompson said a road game at Georgia Southern on Sept. 14 will turn into a home game in the next two years. The tournament with Louisville, Wisconsin and UNI is Sept. 6-7.

“That’s just how it worked out,” Thompson said. “Right now football has a bye weekend and I’m OK with that.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia