Bison excelling at digs
What does it mean when a volleyball team is one of the best in the nation at digging the ball? "It shows we are putting forth a good effort and we're working really hard," said North Dakota State women's volleyball coach Erich Hinterstocker, whos...
What does it mean when a volleyball team is one of the best in the nation at digging the ball?
"It shows we are putting forth a good effort and we're working really hard," said North Dakota State women's volleyball coach Erich Hinterstocker, whose Bison rank sixth among all Division I teams averaging 19.7 digs per game.
"It shows that our players understand that we need to keep rallies going. We don't have that terminating offense. We realize it may take us three or four times before we can get the good kill."
A dig is when a player passes a hard-driven ball, normally a pass made from close to the floor after a spike. A dig extends rallies, and like Hinterstocker said, gives a team more chances to set up its own kills.
Just last week against Western Illinois, the Bison broke a school four-game record with 115 digs. In that match, libero Kari Fagnan came up with a school-record 34 digs.
The defensive mindset has helped the Bison to 12-4 overall record and a 4-2 record and third-place standing in the Summit League. The top four teams qualify for the league's postseason tournament, from which the champion advances to the NCAA Division I tournament.
NDSU's quest for that tournament continues tonight at Oakland University - a team that also thinks defense.
While NDSU ranks first in digs in the Summit League, Oakland - despite its 1-3 conference record and 5-11 overall record - ranks fourth. While Fagnan ranks second in the league in digs, Oakland's Lauren Duquette ranks third.
"For us, defense is about being able to create offensive opportunities," said Oakland coach Rob Beam, in his first year as head coach at the Rochester, Mich., school.
Beam was an assistant at Illinois State last year, in charge of liberos and defensive specialists. Illinois State set a school record with 2,291 digs to finish ranked ninth in the nation.
"Many of those same girls have Illinois State ranked third in digs this year," Beam said - only a one-dig-per-game average ahead of the Bison.
"There are a lot of players out there who are used to getting a kill on that first hit," Hinterstocker said. "When you have a team that can dig, you can really get into the head of an attacker."
Hinterstocker said sophomore hitter Kelly Lopez, who missed some of last week's match against Western Illinois because of leg cramps, will be ready to play today against Oakland and Sunday against nonconference foe Centeral Michigan.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549
Schnepf's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com
Bison excelling at digs Kevin Schnepf 20071006