There's a couple things at play this week for the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) volleyball team.
First and foremost, there's a chance to extend its season at the NCAA Central Regional tournament. To do that, though, UMD will have to exact a bit of revenge on one its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) rivals.
"It's about not wasting the chance and the opportunity. It's very difficult to make an NCAA regional, especially in this regional," head coach Jim Boos said on Monday. "It's also a chance to redeem ourselves against an opponent we didn't play very well against."
That opponent is Northern State, a team that swept UMD in the regular season.
"We can all pick out something that we can do better," freshman Kate Berg said. "We're all focused on the things we need to do to improve, and if we play our game we can come out on top."
UMD is leading the nation this season with a .293 hitting percentage, but the Bulldogs hit only .118 in that loss against Northern State. In fact, UMD has hit below .200 in three of its six losses this season.
"There's no doubt we can play with anybody. They've proven that," Boos said. "The talent in our region is such that if you don't play as well as you can and the other team does, you're going to be on the wrong end of it."
Four of the eight teams in this week's Central Regional tournament are from the NSIC, including the host Southwest Minnesota State, so UMD does expect a fairly familiar atmosphere come Thursday.
"It'll kind of feel like just another match, but the crowd will be a bit bigger and we know what's on the line," sophomore defensive specialist Keena Seifert said. "It'll be a bit different and more intense."
UMD and Northern State are scheduled to play at 5:00 p.m. Thursday. If UMD wins through, it would play in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday and then in the championship at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.