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Bison volleyball player Miron a big talent from a small town

Emily Miron is a sophomore middle hitter on the North Dakota State University volleyball team.

The nerves were packed into Emily Miron's mind like the August heat and humidity that routinely fills Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse. That was last year when she just arrived to the North Dakota State campus from Wadena, Minn.

She questioned every little detail, right down to wondering what shoes to wear. "Last year was so stressful," she said.

It reached the point where once in the locker room she grabbed a teammate's cell phone to give it to her and Miron dropped it. "I was literally about to cry," she said.

In one year, the about-to-cry feeling has turned 180 degrees. Today, the Bison sophomore volleyball player is calm, cool and confident thanks to playing as a true freshman last season and a productive offseason that included being one of 36 players selected for the U.S. Collegiate National Team training program.

Three Bison players tried out for the team last February at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.: Miron, sophomore middle hitter Emily Minnick, junior outside hitter Jenni Fassbender and sophomore defensive specialist Emily Milligan.

"It was a great experience," Miron said. "I wish everyone could have an experience like that. There were a lot of things I brought back like mentality things. I know I can play at that level and it makes me think: what's to say this team can't do great things, too?"

It's that kind of experience that has NDSU in hopes of a much better season than last year's 6-22 overall record. The 6-foot-2 Miron is also getting a look at outside hitter, although Bison head coach Kari Thompson said no lineup or rotation has been set.

The Bison open next weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Invitational against Miami (Ohio), the host Panthers and Robert Morris University (Pa.).

Thompson said after the first day of practice this year she thought about how far the sophomore class has come since it arrived at NDSU. With Miron, for instance, strength was a deficiency last season.

No longer. She even spent the time she was back in Wadena for winter break working out at the high school gymnasium.

"More than that, she's playing the speed of the game and the physicality of it," Thompson said. "Every now and then she would have amazing plays in high school but now she's holding herself to a high level."

Miron's 239 kills last year was second to Fassbender's 299. Minnick had 202 and a team-high .280 hitting percentage.

Two potential starters, outsider hitters Hadley Steffen and Lauren Cammack, have been slowed this month with injuries.

"We're still probably considered a young team but most of us got a ton of experience last year," Miron said.

And, in her case, experience in the offseason with some of the best players in the country.

"Now that she's trained with them she can see what it takes at that next level for some of those players to be that good," Thompson said. "I think it helps her play that way."