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CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah University will wrap up its 2012 regular season this weekend, hosting a pair of must-win games against Northern Colorado and North Dakota. The Thunderbirds can qualify for a Big Sky Conference tournament berth with victories in both matches and losses by Montana State at Sacramento State and Montana.
SUU will enter the weekend on a two-match winning streak, having swept Montana State and Montana on the road last weekend. The victories kept tournament hopes alive and set the table for the two matches this week.
Southern Utah fell to both UNC and UND earlier this season, the team’s first back-to-back losses during the conference season, dropping both games in three sets. The T-Birds were held without a double-digit attacker in Grand Forks (UND) while hitting .138 (30-17-94). Kylie Schofield led the team in Greeley (UNC) with 10 kills with the Thunderbird attack faring a little better, hitting .213 (42-15-127).
SUU will honor its four seniors following the match on Saturday night against North Dakota The 2012 senior class includes Stephanie Stearman, Anna Burgess, Analaine Mailoto and Cashaana Renfro. Renfro and Mailoto have been with the program since its inaugural year in 2008 when the team didn’t actually compete until 2009.
Southern Utah is scheduled to face Northern Colorado on Thursday night and North Dakota on Saturday night with both matches set for 7:00 p.m. Fans can follow both matches online at www.suutbirds.com where live stat and live video links are anticipated to be available.
Scouting Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado will play at Colorado State on Tuesday night before making the trip to Cedar City on Thursday. The Bears are currently 19-9 overall, including a 12-6 mark in Big Sky Conference play, putting UNC third in the standings.
The Bears are led offensively by Andrea Spaustat and Tambre Haddock with 294 and 291 kills, respectively. The duo also lead the team with a 2.83 and 2.80 kills per set average. Marissa Hughes has directed the offense this season with a team-best 1033 assists.
Defensively, UNC has totaled 224 blocks which ranks last in the Big Sky Conference. However, the team makes up for the disparity by ranking second in the league in digs, totaling 1676 and averaging 15.96 per set.
With its victory earlier this season, UNC holds the all-time series mark over Southern Utah 1-0.
Last time against Northern Colorado
Southern Utah suffered a three-set defeat to UNC in Greeley on October 13 with Kylie Schofield logging Southern Utah’s only double-digit kill performance of the night with 10. The T-Birds stretched the Bears to extra points in the second set, 28-26, but dropped sets one and three 25-14 and 25-21, respectively.
Scouting North Dakota
North Dakota will play at Northern Arizona on Thursday night before its match with Southern Utah on Saturday. UND is currently 15-14 overall and 10-8 in conference, punching its ticket to the Big Sky Tournament last weekend with back-to-back wins against Portland State and Eastern Washington.
North Dakota’s offense is paced by Lexi Robinson and Ronni Munkeby with 351 and 328 kills with the duo also leading the team with a 3.25 and 3.04 kills per set average. Lisa Parlich is just behind with 290 kills and an average of 2.69 per set. Nikki Husfeldt leads the team with 1174 assists this season.
Defensively, Munkeby and Parlich lead the block with matching totals of 103 on the year. Lauren Clarke leads the team with 469 digs.
Southern Utah is 0-4 all-time against North Dakota.
Last time against North Dakota
North Dakota captured a three-set sweep (25-19, 25-20, 25-19) in Grand Forks on Oct. 11, holding SUU without a double-digit attacker.