Record crowd not enough in volleyball's 3-0 loss to Colorado State
GREELEY -- Sophomore Kelley Arnold had a match-high nine kills against No. 18 Colorado State on Tuesday night, and senior Ashley Lichtenberg followed up with eight on .316 hitting, but the Bears come up short in a 3-0 loss at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
A school NCAA-Division I volleyball record crowd of 2,235 saw Colorado State (12-2, 2-0 Mountain West) shoot out to a 17-11 lead in the first game and later push that bulge to 19-12. Northern Colorado (12-4, 3-0 Big Sky) never really recovered from there in losing at home for the first time in 12 matches.
Northern Colorado was aiming for its first victory against Colorado State since 1982, but this wasn't the night for that history to be made. The Bears hit a season-low -.044 in the loss, committing more errors (28) than kills (24).
There were five ties in the entire match, and the Bears' lone lead came early in the third game of the 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 loss.
"We just have to chalk this up to a learning experience," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We just didn't perform well tonight. That's really the story. Add in playing a great Colorado State team and it's a bad combination. (The Rams) are going to make you execute, and we didn't do that with enough consistency tonight.
"I think the biggest thing was passing. We could never get in system for long stretches, and it showed. Against a great blocking team, you've got to have three options going to get them off-balance, and we were very predictable tonight."
Sophomore Marissa Hughes returned Tuesday for her first action since going out with illness earlier this month. She came on as the Bears' setter in game two and finished out the match with 10 assists and three digs.
Lichtenberg led Northern Colorado with two blocks, and therein was the glaring issue Benson's squad faced in this one. The Bears finished the match with three overall blocks, while Colorado State got 12 alone from Megan Plourde.
At every turn, when it seemed Northern Colorado was about to put a run together and get back into the match Tuesday, a Ram or two would jump up and literally stonewall the Bears' momentum.
"Their block was huge," Arnold said. "They are a great program and they really showed that tonight. I wish it would have played out differently, but I hope the fans who were here saw the stretches we put together. We've got to get back to practice tomorrow and get better. The rest of our season is right around the corner."