Three Bears considered best in the Sky
Northern Colorado notes - Big Sky Championship
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Northern Colorado volleyball enters this weekend's Big Sky Volleyball Championship on the heels of winning its most matches in five years of league membership.
The Bears (23-6, 14-2 Big Sky) were rewarded for that Thursday night with two selections to this year's Big Sky All-Conference First Team, the Libero of the Year honor and a Second Team nod.
Senior Ashley Lichtenberg and sophomore Kelley Arnold were the Bears' first-team selections, junior Amanda Arterburn was Northern Colorado's first-ever Libero of the Year honoree, and sophomore Marissa Hughes was tabbed to the Big Sky All-Conference Second Team for the second straight season.
It was a good year to be Northern Colorado, who will face Idaho State (18-12, 9-7) at 5:30 p.m. (Pacific) tonight in this year's Big Sky Conference Semifinals.
A win there would send Northern Colorado into tomorrow night's championship match against either Portland State or Montana State.
Arnold joined Portland State's Whitney Phillips as a unanimous selection to this year's first team after finishing second in the conference in kills per game this seaosn (3.75) and leading the Bears to a share of the regular-season title.
Arnold, who's the third Bear to earn first-team All-Big Sky status in the last three seasons (Kenzie Shreeve, Allison Raguse), ranked fifth in the league this season with 11 double-doubles, including nine in Northern Colorado's last 11 matches.
Lichtenberg earned her first career All-Big Sky selection Thursday after finishing the regular season ranked 15th in the country in hitting percentage (.396) and becoming just the 14th player in school history to surpass 1,000 kills in her career.
Arterburn was tabbed the Big Sky's best Libero after finishing the regular season ranked first in the league in digs (544). The third-year player out of Aurora averaged 5.17 digs per game this season and eclipsed 1,000 career digs this season (1,094).
Arterburn has 10 or more digs in her last 13 matches.
Hughes earned a second-team nod for the second time in two seasons. She led the Big Sky in assists per game this season (10.99) and ranks 32nd in all of the NCAA in the category. She hit .324 in the 17 wins for the Bears this season after missing nearly all of September with an illness.