Volleyball keeps rolling, makes quick work of Montana
MISSOULA, Mont. -- Northern Colorado volleyball earned a victory at Montana on Friday night that was six seasons in the making.
The win itself, though, was actually pretty anticlimactic. The Bears entered the day having not won in the Griz's West Auxilary Gym in five tries, but they dominated Montana from the outset and won 25-21, 25-14, 25-18.
Northern Colorado sophomore Kelley Arnold finished with a match-high 12 kills and 11 digs in the win (her eighth double-double this year), sophomore Marissa Hughes dished out 40 assists, junior Amanda Arterburn scooped 16 digs and sophomore Brittany Crenshaw had six blocks.
The victory pushed the Bears (20-5, 11-1 Big Sky) another step closer to their first Big Sky regular-season title (their magic number of wins and Portland State losses is now four) and qualified them for their fifth-straight Big Sky Volleyball Championship appearance.
"I'm proud of our maturity and the way we handled this match in a tough place to play," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We haven't typically had success here, but this group is very mature and handled that and wasn't fazed by anything tonight. We did our job."
They did indeed.
After trading jabs with Montana (10-13, 6-6 Big Sky) in a back-and-forth first game, the Bears turned in a championship-caliber defensive effort in game two, getting to 14 digs and and stonewalling five blocks.
The Grizzlies were co-preseason favorites with Portland State to win the Big Sky this season, but Northern Colorado's business-like approach Friday, including hitting .316 in the decisive third game, was too much for Montana to handle.
The Bears gained sideouts on an impressive 24 off 33 chances in the final two games to earn their second straight three-game win this season and their 10th overall.
"I really liked our tempo tonight," Benson said. "I thought we served well, keeping their offense out of rhythm, and then we had great rythm and tempo on our side. I thought we serve-received very well to be able to establish that with our offense, and we made good choices offensively, of when to go off-speed and when to swing hard.
"We played well, and now we've got to go to Montana State tomorrow night and do it again."