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The University of Minnesota Duluth
BRIDGE - Summer 2007 , Volume 25, #1
Volleyball, Softball, Tennis, and Women's Hockey Reach National Stage
UMD was determined to return to the national volleyball stage in 2006 - and that's exactly what it did.
After capturing its third North Central Conference crown in three years, and in the process becoming the league team to finish with a perfect 12-0 NCC mark, the Bulldogs ousted Concordia-St. Paul in the NCAA II North Central Region championship game on the Golden Bears' home court. That win over its arch nemesis sent No. 2 ranked UMD to the NCAA II Elite Eight tournament in Pensacola, Fla. where it bested the University of California-San Diego in the quarterfinal round before falling to No. 1 and eventual national champion University of Tampa the next day. That final-four finish equaled the best showing ever for a UMD team at an NCAA II national tournament (the 2004 volleyball Bulldogs also advanced to the semifinal round).
The Bulldogs, who have now made five straight NCAA II playoff appearances, closed out the year with a 30-4 record and produced the school's first national Player of the Year in any NCAA II sport in Vicky Braegelmann. The junior outside hitter was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Co-Player of the Year and joined three other teammates -- junior outside hitter Kari Wolford (Avon, Minn.), sophomore setter Katie Ganglehoff (South St. Paul, Minn.) and senior middle blocker Rachel Langseth (Alexandria, Minn.) as 2006 AVCA II All-Americans. Wolford and Ganglehoff were both second team selections while Langseth received honorable mention recognition.
Besides women's hockey (see page 27), the Bulldogs also made NCAA postseason appearances in both softball and women's tennis in 2006-07. The softball Bulldogs earned their third trip ever - and first under second-year head coach Jen Banford -- to the NCAA II North Central Regionals after a strong second-place showing one week earlier at the NCC Softball Tournament.
In tennis, UMD was rewarded for its record-breaking regular season by receiving a NCAA II Championship berth. The Bulldogs, who bowed out to NCC rival Nebraska Omaha 5-0 in the opening round of that event, finished 17-4 on the year - the most wins in team history. Brynne Wischler (Grand Forks, N.D.) had a season for the ages, racking up a perfect 22-0 record (setting a UMD single-season mark for victories in the process) at No. 3 singles while capturing the NCC's title in that department. The best thing about Wischler for seventh-year head coach Dan Doyle and the Bulldogs is that she is only a freshman.
Bulldog Duo Runs the Distance
On an individual front, sophomore Liz Palkie made the most of her first visit ever to the NCAA II Indoor Track and Field Championships this past March by placing second in the 800-meter run. The Carlton, Minn., native, who transferred to UMD in September after playing hockey at the University of Minnesota in 2005-06, posted a personal-best time of 2:10.72 en route to landing All-American honors. Palkie later qualified for the NCAA II Outdoor Track and Field Championship in that same event.
The Bulldogs were represented at the 2006 NCAA II Men's Cross Country Championships by junior Eric Atkinson (Spooner, Wis.). By placing 13th (out of field of 134 runners) at the 2006 NCAA North Central Region meet -- the best finish ever for a Bulldog -- Atkinson became the eighth UMD male, and first since 2001, to qualify as an individual for the NCAA II nationals. Atkinson went on to turn in a personal-best 10K time of 30:44 to finish 48th among 187 participants at that national competition in Pensacola, Fla.
Five get a Call to the Hall
-- by Bob Nygaard,
After a season record of 24-11-4, the UMD Women's Hockey Team captured the runner-up title at the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four in mid-March at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York. The Bulldogs fell to the University of Wisconsin Badgers 4-1 in the championship game, following a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Boston College in the semifinals two days earlier.
UMD's performance at the 2007 Frozen Four added another highlight to its continuing tradition of excellence. In the seven-year history of NCAA women's hockey, UMD has advanced to the NCAA tournaments six times, including four Frozen Four and two quarterfinal appearances. UMD still remains the only team ever to win three consecutive NCAA Division I national championship titles (2001, 2002, and 2003) in women's hockey.
Behind the success of the program is Head Coach Shannon Miller. In her eight years with the Bulldogs, Miller has recorded the highest winning percentage of all Division I women's hockey coaches in the nation. The 2003 NCAA Coach of the Year, Miller was named one of seven finalists for the same award this year.
season the Bulldogs are looking to stay on top of women's college hockey with a strong roster. With seven players graduating, the Bulldogs will return seven freshmen, eight sophomores and only two juniors from this year's squad. The 2007-2008 season will also bring two of the biggest women's college hockey events to Duluth -- the 2008 WCHA Playoff Tournament and the 2008 Frozen Four.
Senior goaltender Riitta Schaublin was selected the WCHA Student Athlete of the Year for the second straight season in 2006-07.
Forward Jessica Koizumi made the 2007 Frozen Four All Tournament Team.
This season's Bulldog roster featured players from six different countries: USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
After the college hockey season, 11 current and former Bulldogs represented their native countries at the 2007 IIHF World Women's Championships, held in Winnipeg, Canada. At the event, UMD Assistant Coach Caroline Ouellette captured gold medal with Team Canada, and former Bulldog standout Jenny Potter helped Team USA to a second-place finish. Two current Bulldogs, Kim Martin and Elin Holmlov, and two UMD alumni, Maria Rooth and Erika Holst, earned bronze medals with Team Sweden, while UMD freshmen Saara Tuominen and Heidi Pelttari joined former Bulldog Nora Tallus in Team Finland's fourth-place performance. UMD forward Michaela Lanzl of Team Germany and alumna Kristina Petrovskaia of Team Russia also competed at the event.
-- by Ira Turunen
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