The Bemidji State University volleyball program announced the additions of four student-athletes to its 2011 signing class, including three members of the Class AA state champion Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines.
Rachel Craig (MB, Wadena, Minn.), Kelsi Crawford (OH, Wadena, Minn.), Kelly Niles (OH, Grand Rapids, Minn.) and Courtney Volkmann (S, Wadena, Minn.) all signed National Letter of Intents to play collegiate volleyball for Wayne Chadwick at BSU. Craig, Crawford and Volkmann were all members of the 2010 Class AA State Championship team at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
All signees are contingent upon admission to BSU and compliance with NCAA rules, including certification by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
“I think all four of the players we signed are going to be solid players for us,” Chadwick said. “I think they each bring a certain set of skills to the team that are going to be a big help for us.”
Volkmann joins the Beavers after being selected the 2010 Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Class AA Player of the Year. She finished her career at Wadena-Deer Creek High School with 4,232 assists, 1,241 digs, 541 kills and 495 service aces. Volkmann was a Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Class AA All-State selection as a junior and senior. She also earned placement on the Class AA Minnesota State Girls Volleyball All-Tournament team during her final two seasons for the Wolverinesthe state of Minnesota by Breakdown Sports USA. In addition, she was named Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year as a junior and senior and was selected to the Brained Dispatch All-Area team on five occasions.
She is the daughter of Tim and Sue Volkmann. The 5-7 setter played for her mother at Wadena-Deer Creek High School. Volkmann was born Aug. 20, 1992 in Wadena, Minn. Her mother played basketball and softball at
University of North Dakota.
“Courtney is a really great kid,” Chadwick said. “She is yet another player in this class that is going to give us some flexibility. Last season we were really locked in to our positions and substitution patterns. Now, along with Jessi-Beth McCannell (S, Brandon, Manitoba), we will have another very accomplished setter on the roster. We could play a 5-1 or go with a 6-2 with Jessi-Beth and Courtney both on the floor. Those are questions that will have to be answered prior to the start of the season. She knows how to run a team and puts the hitters in the best possible position.”
Craig joins the Beavers after being a two-time Brainerd Dispatch All-Area selection for Wadena-Deer Creek High School. The middle blocker helped led the Wolverines to a state title with a team-leading 213 blocks. Craig added 86 kills as a senior. In addition to competing in volleyball for three seasons, she lettered in basketball all four years and track for three seasons. Off the court, Craig was awarded academic all-state and has received the Bemidji Presidential Scholarship, Academic Achievement Scholarship and Campus Honors Scholarship.
She is the daughter of Michael and Marian Craig and was born July 3, 1993 in St. Cloud, Minn. Her father competed in track and field at University of Wisconsin from 1975-79.
“Rachel is one of three players that we have coming to us from the state champions from Wadena-Deer Creek High School,” Chadwick said. “She plays the middle and is about six feet tall. She is really good going off of one foot and we plan to take advantage of that.”
Crawford is another implant to Bemidji State from Wadena-Creek High School. She was a two-time Brainerd Dispatch All-Area selection. Crawford was selected to the 2009 Minnesota State Class AA All-Tournament team as a junior. Crawford was second on the team with 196 kills and added 90 digs.
“Kelsi is an outside hitter,” Chadwick said. “She is a little undersized but she is a very good athlete. Kelsi is a really strong player and gets off the ground very well. She is an athlete who gives us a little bit of a flexibity. Kelsi can play as an outside hitter but can also move back and play as a defensive specialist, as well as be a part of our serving pattern.”
Niles, a 6-0 outside hitter, comes to BSU from Grand Rapids High School where she was a two-time Duluth News Tribune All-Area selection. She eclipsed the 1,000 kill mark during her senior season while leading the Thunderhawks to a 20-9 record. Niles was a four-year varsity player in volleyball and women’s basketball.
She is the daughter of Jeffery and Georgia Niles and was born Aug. 25, 1992 in Grand Rapids, Minn. Her sister, Erin, played volleyball and basketball at College of St. Scholastica.
“Kelly is about six feet tall and is a good athlete that will probably be an outside hitter for us,” Chadwick said. “Because she is the best athlete on her club team, she is playing in the middle. With experience on the outside and in the middle, she adds flexibility we didn’t have in our lineup last season.”
The four signees join a squad which graduates six seniors including two-time All-NSIC honorable selection Nicole Olson (MB, Baudette, Minn.) and BSU’s career digs leader Brie Groskreutz (Lib., Reedsburg, Wis.).
The Beavers return seven players from last year’s squad including seniors-to-be Kimberly Hacker (MB/RS, Hutchinson, Minn.), McCannell and Melissa McNeely (DS/OH, Burnsville, Minn.).