Hurricane Ian scare behind, Bison volleyball player Logan O’Brien helps team remain hot
NDSU, off to best start since 2017, lone undefeated team in Summit League
FARGO — For a team picked to seventh in the 10-team Summit League, North Dakota State’s volleyball team isn’t acting like it. A winning vibe has returned to Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse.
NDSU ended the University of South Dakota’s 13-match winning streak in a stirring battle on Tuesday, then turned around and got down to business against Oral Roberts on Thursday night. A 25-15, 25-16, 25-11 victory left the Bison, 11-5 overall, in sole possession of first place in the league.
For Bison defensive specialist Logan O’Brien, she got a double dose of victory amid the tragic consequences of Hurricane Ian, which hit her hometown of Fort Myers, Fla., hard. She found out not long before the ORU match that her father Peter O’Brien, and their house, made it through the storm just fine with the exception of a couple of trees.
It was a long day considering there was no cell service while Logan and her mother Candice, who is in Fargo this week, waited for word. It came at 5:30 p.m., an hour and a half before the match started.
“We’re all good and that was a relief,” Logan said. “The team has been there for me to rely on and the coaches have been there for me to rely on so that was really nice. We were hoping our house was high enough above sea level that we didn’t flood.”
The O’Briens in Fargo had a neighbor in Florida that had cell service, who in turn contacted Peter O’Brien. He was able to find a way to call his family in Fargo.
“A lot of our friends and family are completely under water, cars and everything destroyed,” Logan said. “It’s definitely going to be a community effort to rebuild what we had in Fort Myers.”
NDSU is using a team effort in rebuilding the program.
The calendar hasn’t hit October yet and nobody is celebrating, or thinking of playoffs or league titles down the road, but the Bison clearly appear to be a different team in physical ability and athletic confidence. It’s what Bison teams that are part of banners on the arena walls used to do, head coach Jennifer Lopez included; find a way to beat the good teams and bury those that are less talented.
The latter was the case on Thursday.
“I know I’ve talked about this before, but we did a really good job in the offseason figuring ourselves out as a team, what that looks like and what we’re trying to be,” Lopez said. “I think we’re finally back to getting to that point of what Bison volleyball is.”
The 3-0 start is the first since 2017, and the Golden Eagles and NDSU represented the last two undefeated teams in the Summit League. For the Bison, it’s been an offensive show leading the league in kills with 793, which ranks ninth in Division I.
“Just being able to prove that we are in it to win it,” O’Brien said.
They were pretty good defensively against ORU, too, including O’Brien, who finished with 13 digs. The transfer from the University of North Florida of the Atlantic Sun Conference has been another piece in NDSU’s puzzle.
Take away the shortened pandemic season of 2020-21, the Bison haven’t had a winning season since going 19-9 in 2017. That team started 3-0 and, ironically, lost to ORU in the fourth conference game of the year.
The Bison served notice in Game 1. Tied at 12-12, NDSU rattled off seven straight, the last three courtesy of two Michelle Glover kills and an Ali Hinze ace.
In a sign of a good team, the Bison kept the pedal floored to begin Game 2, taking a quick 8-2 lead behind the three-pronged attack of Glover, Hinze and Syra Tanchin.
Using timeouts to try and stop the flow, the Golden Eagles had no answer. At one point, ORU defensive specialist Chloe Salcedo took a hit so hard from NDSU she was more in self-defense mode.
Another 8-2 lead to start Game 3 had the Bison on their way to the sweep. There were just no prolonged lapses all night.
Tanchin and Hinze had 11 kills each. The Bison hit .365 as a team.
“Oral Roberts is a good team and they’ve done some good things the last couple of years,” Lopez said, “so the way we went about it on the floor was something special.”
ORU (kills-blocks-aces): Spencer 5-0-0, Burk 0-0-0, LaCour 4-1-0, Rivas 0-0-1, Dunford 8-1-0, Baptiste 2-2-0, Vaivai 1-1-0, Freeman 8-0-0, Soares 0-0-0, Salcedo 0-0-0.
NDSU: Tanchin 11-2-0, Glover 7-5-0, Schmoll 0-0-2, Quan 0-0-0, Hinze 11-2-5, Boling 5-0-0, O’Brien 0-0-0 (13 digs), Johnson 2-0-1 (57 assists), Scheiwiller 3-3-0.