Volleyball 'Survives' in Sac Town
BOX SCORE: Northern Colorado-Sacramento State
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Colorado's volleyball program took another step forward Friday night.
Sure, the Bears went into their match against Sacramento State knowing they were in for a battle against the Hornets on their home court. Sacramento State hadn't lost all year at home before the match, and they are the 11-time defending conference champions.
But throw in the absence for the Bears of sophomore outside hitter Ashley Lichtenberg -- who suffered an injury during practice early in the week -- and this 3-2 victory (25-20, 25-18, 16-25, 24-26, 15-9) was all the more sweet on this Halloween night of tricks and treats.
Northern Colorado has now won five straight matches and eight of its last 10. The Bears will next play at Big Sky-second place Portland State on Thursday, Nov. 6.
"We really had some people step up tonight," said Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson, whose team improved to 15-5 overall and improved its first-place conference record to 9-2."But give credit to Sac State. They played tremendous defense and kept the ball off the floor and made us really work for it offensively. They're really tough to beat on their home court."
Junior Kenzie Shreeve led the Bears' attack with 18 kills, junior Allison Raguse added 17 and junior Taylor Smith chipped in 10.
But the production from freshman Bre Williams (nine kills, .444 hitting percentage) and sophomore Julie Stephenson (career-high 10 kills) propelled the Bears when they needed it most against the Hornets (7-17, 5-4).
"Julie and Bre both really did a great job stepping into their role tonight, and they scored with authority."
And the Bears got it done defensively -- 103 digs to Sacramento State's 89 -- behind two career performances from Shreeve and junior Breanna VanDerMost.
Shreeve scooped up a career-high 19 digs (her fifth double-double of the season), and VanDerMost tied a season and career high with 27 digs to give her 20 straight double-digit dig performances.
"It was just a typical Big Sky match this year, of a lot of defense and just a lot of swings," Benson said. "We gave Kenzie a lot of swings, and she did a good job keeping the ball in play when she didn't have the opportunity to kill.
"We did a good job to battle on the road, and we really feel like we just survived, at times. But sometimes that's just what it takes."