Bears Volleyball Chops Down Lumberjacks
BOXSCORE: Northern Colorado-Northern Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Northern Colorado's volleyball team hadn't competed in a week before it took on Northern Arizona on Saturday night on the Lumberjacks' home court.
But it didn't matter. Nothing these days has been able to cool the hot hands of the Bears, who left Flagstaff with a tidy 3-1 victory.
And after leapfrogging back and forth with Portland State for much of the past two weeks, Lyndsey Benson's Northern Colorado team (12-5, 6-2 Big Sky Conference) is now in sole possession of the conference's first-place spot with a little more than a month remaining in the regular-season schedule.
"This was a tough road win, and this was a tough place to play," Benson said. "Northern Arizona has been very successful at home, so I really like how mentally tough we were in the match. We were very steady, and we never waivered on how tough we were."
The Bears, who with the win got their first victory at Northern Arizona since joining the Big Sky, used one of their most well-rounded matches of the season to get the win against the Lumberjacks (12-5, 4-4).
Northern Colorado tallied 66 kills, hit at a .265 clip, dished out 65 assists and scooped up 70 digs to NAU's 50.
The difference in digs -- keyed by junior Breanna VanDerMost's usual solid work (18 digs) and senior Lauren Carter's season-high 16 digs -- was the most impressive, as NAU entered the match with the No. 1 digger in the country in libero Brittany Stowers.
"That's something we talked about during scouting this week," Benson said. "We really needed to outdig them to win tonight, because they are a really good defensive team -- especially their libero. So to outdig them by 20 digs really separated us."
And when it came time to drop the hammer, Northern Colorado junior Kenzie Shreeve and sophomore Ashley Lichtenberg were more than ready to answer the call.
Shreeve slammed down 24 kills in the match and Lichtenberg followed up with 15 and hit at a .429 percentage.
"Kenzie Shreeve came out big for us," Benson said. "Northern Arizona had a tough time stopping her with their size, so it was a good matchup for us -- with both she and Ashley being big hitters on the antenna."
The Bears will next be in action Thursday night, Oct. 23, when Montana State comes into Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. Northern Colorado already owns a 3-1 road victory against the Bobcats this season.