Volleyball bounces back with quick win against NAU
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado volleyball slammed down nearly twice as many kills as Northern Arizona on Saturday night in a quick 3-0 bounce-back victory at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The Bears (13-4, 4-0 Big Sky) hit .277 in the victory, with 51 kills to the Lumberjacks' 26, to stay unbeaten in conference play and recover from their loss to Colorado State on Tuesday night.
Senior Ashley Lichtenberg, ranked 16th in the NCAA in hitting percentage coming into the match, led all players with 18 kills on 28 swings, sophomore Kelley Arnold had 11, and sophomore Brittany Crenshaw followed up by tying a career high with eight.
Northern Colorado improved to 8-1 at home this season in the 25-15, 25-21, 25-21 victory and 7-5 all-time against Northern Arizona (6-8, 2-2).
"I liked our response to the CSU match," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We had three great practices after that and came out aggressive and confident in all three and into tonight. We got in the gym and didn't get our heads down and it showed tonight. I'm happy with how we moved on from that so quickly."
The Bears have had somewhat of an issue with slow starts in individual games this season, and that was the case again Saturday. Northern Colorado got off to slow starts in each of the first two games but had little trouble overcoming that in both victories.
The Bears shot out to a 6-1 lead in game three after intermission, though, and rode that to a comfortable win that allowed them a chance to get some of their reserves some conference experience.
"I think we've done better the last five or six matches in not getting off to slow starts, but it did happen again tonight," Benson said. "But as we were going through it I thought to myself, 'OK, I'm not even going to mention it and instead talk about what we are going to do moving forward.' And it came out to a better outcome as the match progressed.
"So, I guess I'll just keep my mouth shut about the slow starts from here on out and see how they respond to that."
Marissa Hughes played the entire match for the first time since early September (illness), and the Northern Colorado offense seemed like it benefited a bit from her addition.
She played the final two games of the Colorado State match, but that was after just a single practice on Monday afternoon. She came out Saturday and looked like the player who garnered second-team All-Big Sky honors last season as a true freshman.
"I thought Marissa played an excellent match, as far as her setting went," Benson said. "She made great choices, had the ball in the right location and had us playing at the right tempo.
"Natalie (Laband) did a great job for us while she was in there, too, and it's good to see how well we play with both of them. Marissa came into Tuesday's match with basically just one practice. She showed tonight the benefit of getting more time on the court."