NDSU prepares for big weekend
FARGO -- It's a long way and perhaps multiple levels of play from the schedule Emily Miron and Emily Minnick were competing against at this time last year. The first North Dakota State volleyball match of their careers was against 24th ranked Wichita State.
One day later, it was NCAA tournament team Arizona State of the Pac-12 Conference across the net. On Friday, it will by the 17th-ranked University of Louisville in NDSU's first test in its annual Doublewood Inn Classic at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse.
Oh, on Saturday it's Wisconsin and Northern Iowa.
"We're getting thrown right into it," Minnick said. "I like it because you get to see what's out there and you get some good hard competition right from the start. We're working hard and moving right along."
Moving along in the win column may be tough to do. NDSU went 0-3 in the Utah Valley University tournament, dropping all nine sets. With only four returning players, a slow start was expected.
Miron is from Wadena, Minn., where she helped Wadena-Deer Creek to a Class A title as a sophomore and three straight state appearances overall. Facing Wichita State and Arizona State right off the bat was a big step.
"I was super nervous at first," she said. "Yeah, it was intimidating, but I learned you have to get over it and just play."
That was the positive news head coach Kari Thompson said she took from last weekend. Sophomore Jenni Fassbender led the team with 25 kills, but Miron and Minnick -- both middle hitters in the 6-foot-1 to 6-2 range -- were next with 17 each.
"It's way more intense than I ever expected," said Minnick, from Willmar, Minn. "But we're getting there. It's a pretty tough schedule this weekend too but we have a bunch of fans coming out and we're ready to go."
The schedule doesn't get a whole lot easier after this weekend. The Bison still have Kansas, Notre Dame and Georgia on the schedule.
"When we move toward the Summit, we'll be ready," Minnick said. "I couldn't ask to be part of a better group of girls."
The four-team Doublewood Classic starts at 3:30 p.m. Friday with Northern Iowa and Wisconsin, followed by NDSU and Louisville at 7 p.m. Louisville and UNI start Saturday play at 9 a.m. NDSU faces Wisconsin at 11:30 a.m. and UNI at 6 p.m.
"This will help us get better," Miron said.