Bison return players in key positions
North Dakota State University Volleyball Head Coach Jennifer Lopez enters her sixth year at the helm feeling confident about this upcoming season. The most important factor, for her, is the returning experience at key spots on this year’s squad.
“We do have a lot of returners at key spots,” Lopez said. “Especially now that we finally had an off-season and training has allowed us to switch gears better…our upperclassmen have been able to show and demonstrate to our incoming kids that this is Bison volleyball, and the seniors and juniors did a really good job of setting the stage for this year and for what that is.”
On the court itself, Lopez really likes the team’s depth and has been pleased with what she and her staff have seen in practice thus far. “A lot of eyebrows have been raised in practice so far and in a good way,” Lopez observed. “Of course, our six-rotation kids or our hitters get most of the love and a lot more vision because they are the ones scoring you most of your points. I would say Ali Hinze and Syra Tanchin (outside hitters) will be huge impact players for what is about to happen this season. They are well prepared for the rigors of the upcoming season and what that entails.”
In the “middles” of the Bison lineup, Lopez sees potential. “I do think we are going to see a lot of our production out of our middles, and we have some depth there,” Lopez said. “At any given time, I see some kids stepping up and playing some roles that are going to be good. That is Alexis Boling, Ali [Allison] Scheiwiller and Michelle Glover. I think this could give our opponents some problems when trying to prepare for us.”
On the back line, depth is again a positive for the Bison. “Finally have some kids who have been here for a few years,” Lopez said. “One of them being Ava [Schmoll]. She has got a lot of reps this summer and the depth at her position was short, but she has come a long way…just in that confidence in herself to be able to handle the load and trust in herself. Not only that but to also make plays that make others around her better.”
Schmoll, the senior defensive specialist/libero, sees great things for this year’s Bison squad. “I’m very excited for what the team is going to do this year,” Schmoll said. “I think we have been working extremely hard in the off-season. We had some really good spring practices and tournaments and have built a good building block from last season for our returning and incoming players.”
Coach Lopez figures the usual suspects will figure in the chase to the Summit League Championship. “Denver will be tough. They have quite a few returning players and some transferring in,” Lopez elaborated. “South Dakota and Omaha will be tough competition this year within the Summit League, too.”
In the pre-season coaches’ poll, the Herd was picked to finish seventh at 35 points. Denver University was picked to win the league championship just edging out the University of South Dakota by one point 75-74. The Pioneers also received six first-place votes compared to the Coyotes’ three.
Still, after five years of running the Bison volleyball program, Lopez feels Bison volleyball is moving in the right direction. “As a program, as a head coach and as a team, I feel we are headed in the right direction and I feel really good about what it is we are trying to do and we have a very clear vision of what that is,” Lopez said. “Sometimes it takes a while, and you have a plan in your head on what you want and there are things along the way that cause you to make a detour or make you reevaluate some things, but I do feel we are headed in the right direction.”
Bison volleyball will be on the court next in the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Classic in Lafayette, La., on September 2nd & 3rd where they will face Louisiana University, the University of Texas – San Antonio and the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.
They will open the home portion of their schedule the following weekend at the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse where they will host the University of Chicago, Central Michigan University and the University of Northern Arizona in the NDSU Classic Tournament. Match times are 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, September 9th and 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 10th. Student tickets are available at GoBison.com/students.