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BHSU's Carmichael

Black Hills State volleyball coach Kristin Carmichael talks to the media earlier at the BHSU media day. The Yellow Jackets open the season this weekend at the Southern Invitational, hosted by Missouri Southern State University.

The Black Hills State University volleyball team opens the 2019 season this weekend with four games at the Southern Invitational, hosted by Missouri Southern State University.

The Yellow Jackets will play Southwestern Oklahoma State and Missouri Southern on Friday, before taking on Wayne State and Cameron on Saturday in Joplin, Missouri.

Black Hills State finished the 2018 season with a 9-16 overall record, and were selected to finish 10th in the RMAC this year. The Yellow Jackets return 10 players from last year's squad, including senior setter Laurel Lech. Last season she finished with 702 assists, 241 digs, and 123 kills. Five sophomore hitters are also back from last year.

Seven newcomers, including three transfers, joined the team this year.

"I think the biggest thing I have noticed in the difference between last year and this year is the competition at every single position," BHSU coach Kristin Carmichael said. "I don't think anybody is going to have time to get comfortable this year, they have to work really hard everyday to either stay on the floor or get on the floor."

Carmichael said the perennial powers — Colorado Mines, Colorado State-Mesa, Dixie State and Regis — are going to be the same in the Rocky Mount Conference. She hopes the Jackets can move up in the standings.

"I do think that four to 12 in the RMAC is anybody's night, which is so weird," she said. "Two points here or there literally makes the difference in you being in fourth place or being in 12th place. It's always competitive and it is always a battle."

Southwestern Oklahoma State University, located in Weatherford, Oklahoma, is a member of the Great American Conference. The Bulldogs were picked to finish first in the conference Preseason Coaches' Poll after finishing 21-7 overall in 2018. After tallying a 13-3 league record and finishing second in the regular season, SWOSU advanced to the semifinals of the GAC Tournament.

Missouri Southern State University, a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, is located in Joplin, Missouri. The Lions were selected to finish ninth in the MIAA. The team returns five starters and 12 players from a team that finished ninth last year with a 3-25 overall record.

Wayne State College, located in Wayne, Nebraska, plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The team was recently selected to finish fourth in the NSIC, returning five starters and its libero. In 2018, the Wildcats finished 22-9 overall and 13-7 in conference play, good for sixth.

Cameron University is a member of the Lone Star Conference and is located in Lawton, Oklahoma. The Aggies lost seven seniors from last year's squad, and the LSC coaches selected them to finish 18th in the conference. The team has a new head coach, Brandon Stephenson, after finishing 4-26 overall and 2-18 in league play in 2018.

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Yellow Jacket women's soccer looks for improvement

The Black Hills State University soccer team opens the 2019 season traveling east this weekend. The Yellow Jackets will play at Dakota Wesleyan on Friday before taking on Southwest Minnesota State University on Sunday.

BHSU enters the fourth year of the program in 2019. Eleven players from last year's squad, that finished 0-xx-1 return this year.

"We're super excited. We have a very good group," BHSU coach Mike Greco said. "I'd say the biggest change is we have culture. Probably for the first time in the program, we have a large set of our returners who are eager to take a leadership role. It creates a different environment for the newcomers."

Rose Miller, who had one goal and three assists, and Katie Nielson, who had four goals, lead the Yellow Jackets as the only remaining members of the inaugural team. Seven newcomers enter the mix this season, fighting for time on the field.

"It's a long season, so we are going to use a lot of our preseason games as a lot of learning, getting in shape," Greco said. "Everyone is basically going to play. We have to figure out a system that works."

Greco said that there are four or five teams in the RMAC that are already looking for national championships, and four or five teams that are on the outside looking in to get to the RMAC Tournament.

"We feel like we should get in the RMAC Tournament," he said.

Dakota Wesleyan University has begun the season 2-1, most recently defeating Tabor, 1-0, in double overtime. They have also beaten Waldorf (2-0) and lost to Bethany (4-0).

Southwest Minnesota State University, located in Marshall, Minnesota, is a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The team was selected to finish 14th in the NSIC.

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