Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate.
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The UND volleyball team has a familiar draw for the NCAA tournament. The Fighting Hawks are headed to Minneapolis for the second-straight season to take on No. 7 overall seed Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Fighting Hawks, who are back-to-back Big Sky Conference tournament champions, posted a school-record 30 wins this season. UND is 0-4 all-time against the Gophers, including a 3-1 loss in last year's regular season before losing 3-0 in the NCAA tournament. Minnesota finished the season 26-5.
On Thursday, Union coach Rick Bennett made the decision to start goalie Jake Kupsky over Darion Hanson. Based solely on won-loss records, Bennett's decision looks a little strange. Kupsky entered the weekend 1-5 on the year and Hanson was 6-1. But thanks to a 2-2 tie with UND on Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena, Union and Kupsky escaped a non-conference series with the No. 3 Fighting Hawks with a valuable win and a tie. A good portion of the success was on the back of Kupsky, who made 64 saves on the weekend, including 37 in Friday's 4-1 victory.
The UND women's basketball team is headed to Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday with a couple of goals in mind, according to coach Travis Brewster. For one, the team wants to take in some sun. Secondly, the Fighting Hawks want to mimick the Big Sky Conference tournament setup—seeing how the team responds to travel and quick turnarounds. UND will play Lamar on Friday and Texas-San Antonio on Saturday. Both games are scheduled for 2 p.m. tips in San Antonio.
The UND athletic department announced Monday the signing of its first-ever department-wide apparel deal. UND and adidas have agreed to an apparel contract, which runs for seven years from next season through the 2024-25 season. Previously, UND allowed individual programs to make deals on their own to purchase gear.
UND and UMass traded punches in the third quarter. The punch from the Minutewomen was literal, whereas the Fighting Hawks' counterpunch came on the scoreboard. UND navigated a physical UMass team and rolled to an 82-52 win on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,580 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. With 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter, UMass' Bre Hampton-Bey punched UND's Fallyn Freije in the face after Freije confronted Hampton-Bey for wrestling down UND's Lexi Klabo.
Sydney Griffin, UND volleyball senior and defending Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player, walked into the school's football game at the Alerus Center last Saturday after the volleyball team's final regular-season match at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. She was greeted with a surprising reminder of volleyball's new status in Grand Forks. "It's amazing; everyone knows who we are," Griffin said. "(Fans) asked how the game went and how we're doing. They're really informed."
With the UND football team having a bye during the final week of the regular season, the Fighting Hawks now turn the page to 2018 sooner than most. Although the Fighting Hawks finished a disappointing 3-8, despite starting the season as a national contender, coach Bubba Schweigert said on Monday he doesn't plan to make any coaching changes. "I love our staff," Schweigert said. "We work hard, and they're committed to being here at UND." On Sunday, UND's staff and players met to thank the seniors of 2017 and talk about expectations for the offseason.
When Colton Poolman scored in the middle of the second period to kickstart UND's comeback in a 3-3 tie with Miami on Saturday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the in-house announcer read the goal as scored by Colton's brother Tucker Poolman. "That was tough," Colton said. "I just kind of put my head down and laughed a little bit. It was kind of funny." Living in the shadows of an NHL defenseman brother can be rough, but Colton's making a name for himself in Grand Forks this season.
With the UND football team making a comeback in the fourth quarter, quarterback Keaton Studsrud hit wide receiver Stetson Carr on a slant pattern near the 10-yard line. As Carr reached the 5, he leaped toward the end zone with the ball outstretched. Just before he crossed the goal line, though, Eastern Washington punched the ball loose and the Eagles recovered. A promising situation, disastrous results. That was the 2017 UND football season in a nutshell.
If anyone can understand what UND goalie Peter Thome, who led the Fighting Hawks to a 4-1 win over Miami on Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena, is going through right now it’s goalie coach Matt Hrynkiw. Two seasons ago, en route to UND’s national championship, Hrynkiw was thrust into the spotlight when Cam Johnson went down with an injury in the team’s third game of the season. Hrynkiw made the next 11 starts and steadied the ship early in the season.