Undefeated Volleyball Bears Are Headed North
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado’s volleyball program will take its 4-0 record on the road this weekend when it travels to Fargo, N. Dak., for the Doublewood Inn Classic presented by ASICS at North Dakota State University.
First up for Lyndsey Benson’s crew will be the Miners, who Northern Colorado has defeated five times in seven previous meetings. The Bears will then face for the first time Illinois-Chicago in the first of two games Saturday, Sept. 6. Northern Colorado will take on the host Bison in the its second match of the day. The Bears are 22-21 against NDSU all-time and have won the last eight straight matches.
NEWS & NOTES
Allison Raguse, a Northern Colorado junior from
Lincoln, Neb., was tabbed in early September by the Web site
Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU.com) as one of 10 Top Performers
nationally for her work in the Bears’ 4-0 championship run
through the La Salle Tournament in Philadelphia on Friday and
Saturday, Aug. 29 and 30.
COLLEGIATE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE TOP PERFORMERS FOR WEEK 1
* Hillary Otte, Xavier, Junior, Right side, 6-0
* Angie Porche, Valparaiso, Junior, Outside hitter, 5-8
* Julie Rubenstein, Pepperdine, Senior, Outside hitter, 6-3
* Megan Argabright, Western Kentucky, Senior, Middle hitter, 6-1
* Yarimar Rosa, Florida International, Junior, Outside hitter, 5-10
* Caitlyn Vann, Missouri, Sophomore, Defensive specialist, 5-6
* Allison Nieters, Iona, Sophomore, Libero, 5-9
* Jessica Walters, UNLV, Junior, Outside hitter, 5-9
* Allison Raguse, Northern Colorado, Junior, Middle blocker, 6-0
* Ashley Asberry, Middle Tennessee State, Senior, Middle blocker, 5-9
Northern Colorado junior Allison Raguse, a middle blocker from Lincoln, Neb., was announced on Sept. 1 as the first Big Sky Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for matches played between Aug. 25 and Sept. 1. The honor came on the heels of Raguse earning Most Valuable Player honors during the Bears’ run to a season-opening 2008 La Salle Tournament title in Philadelphia.
The first victory of the season was a battle, but once it got going, Northern Colorado’s volleyball team got the 2008 season off to a good start Friday, Aug. 29, at the LaSalle Tournament. The Bears were staring a loss in the face in their first match of the season against Villanova, but Lyndsey Benson’s squad fought back and got a 3-2 (25-21, 24-26, 21-25, 25-12, 15-10) victory after being down 1-2. Northern Colorado then easily dispatched Rider 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-12) in its second game of the tournament.
The Bears started the 2008 season 4-0 after following up victories against Villanova and Rider with wins against Lafayette and La Salle.
The Bears’ 4-0 start was the program’s first such beginning since starting play at the NCAA Division I level and the program’s best start overall since beginning 10-0 in 2002.
This season marks just the second time the Bears have started a season 4-0 since 1995.
The Bears’ trip to Philadelphia in late August was the first time Northern Colorado's volleyball program had competed in Pennsylvania since playing there in Sept. 2003 during the West Chester Ram Fest in West Chester, Pa.
In terms of majority, the Bears are a “young” “Colorado” bunch this year. Seven of the 15 members of the Benson’s squad are freshmen in 2008 and nine of the players reside in The Centennial State.
Lyndsey Benson’s Northern Colorado volleyball team was announced in August as one of only 70 NCAA Division I teams across the nation to earn a American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2007-2008 season. The Bears, which also had 10 players named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team in 2007, were the only Big Sky team honored among the 70 D-I squads.
There were four teams above and four teams below for Northern Colorado in the 2008 Big Sky Conference preseason poll, which was released in August.
The Bears received 34 points and no first-place votes to come in fiffth behind preseason favorite Portland State (61 and five), Sacramento State (53 and three), Weber State (50) and Eastern Washington (49 and one).
Montana (30), Northern Arizona (24) Idaho State (12) and Montana State (11) were all picked to finish lower than Northern Colorado in head coach Lyndsey Benson’s fourth season in Greeley.
Senior Lauren Carter moved into Northern Colorado’s top 10 all-time assists list during the Bears’ victory against Villanova in the season-opener. She enters this weekend’s action with 1,151 total assists, which has her in sole possession of ninth on the all-time list. She is within definite range of Stormie Wells (1992-1995), who finished her career sixth all-time with the Bears with 1,604 career assists.
A strong junior class of Allison Raguse, Kenzie Shreeve, Taylor Smith and Breanna VanDerMost will be counted on heavily in 2008.
Raguse led Northern Colorado in service aces (25), solo blocks (12) and attack percentage (.249) in 2007, while Shreeve was one of Northern Colorado’s best all-around performers as a sophomore, leading the team in kills (365), attacks (1152), points (400.5) and points per game (3.51). Smith’s 122 blocks led the team last year, and VanDerMost’s 297 digs are the most of all the returning players.
Also returning in 2008 are sophomores Jaclyn Bruns (122 digs in 2007), Ashley Lichtenberg (second-best .171 attack percentage last year) and Julie Stephenson (played in 20 of the Bears’ 30 matches last season), whose play loomed large in an increased role during the Northern Colorado’s China trip.
Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson announced in April the signing of high school senior Breanna “Bre” Williams to a National Letter of Intent. Williams (Littleton, Colo.) joins Amanda Arterburn (Aurora, Colo.), Natasha Law (Seabrook, Texas), Jill Dawson (Lincoln, Neb.), Natalie Laband (Monument, Colo.) and RaeLynn Snyder (Simla, Colo.) as new players who enrolled at Northern Colorado for fall semester 2008. Abbie Howe (Eaton, Colo.), another commitment, arrived on campus a semester early after transferring from the University of Colorado.
The Bears entered the 2008 season after finishing 3-1 in May during a 10-day exhibition tour through eastern China. Northern Colorado defeated Beijing Sport University (3-2), Beijing’s 101 Middle School (2-1) and Fuxing Senior High School (3-0) before falling 3-2 to Quing Pu Training Base.