Volleyball stays perfect in more ways than one
GREELEY, Colo. -- So many different players have stepped up for Northern Colorado volleyball this season, but it was the holdovers who loomed large Saturday night as the Bears got off to their third 2-0 start in the Big Sky Conference since joining the league in 2006.
Seniors Allison Raguse, Kenzie Shreeve and Taylor Smith all turned in outstanding efforts as Northern Colorado downed Idaho State 3-1 inside Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Raguse led NC's offensive charge with one of the best all-around matches of her career in Greeley. She finished with a match-high and season-high 18 kills and a .441 hitting percentage to go along with 13 digs, three blocks and an assist.
Shreeve was right behind with 14 kills and eight blocks, and Smith finished with 10 kills and an astounding .562 hitting percentage.
The Bears (8-5, 2-0 Big Sky) also tallied 68 digs and added nine team blocks in the victory.
"That's one of the reasons we're all so excited for the possibilities this season," Raguse said in between post-victory laughs in the postgame interview room Saturday. "We know that on any given night any one of us could step up and lead us to victory. We know we've got so much depth and that we're so strong at all positions."
Northern Colorado, winners of 12 of 13 matches all-time against Idaho State, including seven straight in the Big Sky Conference, is now 7-1 in conference opening-weekend matches since becoming a member of the league four seasons ago.
"It feels great to get off to another start like this," Bears coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We planned our nonconference matches we've played so far to get us ready to hit the ground running in the league, and we've definitely done that this first weekend at home."
Northern Colorado and Idaho State split the first two matches Saturday night, with the Bears claiming a game-one win, 25-22, before falling 25-23 in game two.
Benson's intermission speech, though, must have done its job, because Northern Colorado stormed out of the locker room with a 25-14 victory, outhitting Idaho State .464 to .167.
The Bears then got a hard-earned victory in game four, finishing off the Bengals with a 25-23 triumph.
"Our defense, at times, was exceptional tonight," Benson said. "But it still wasn't as strong as I know we're capable of doing. We talked about it during most of our timeouts. We ended up outblocking them by quite a bit, but I think we could have had 20 blocks tonight and had a few more matches that were like that third game."