August 30, 2011

Arnold smashes Bears out of rut, past Falcons

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- A quick glance at the boxscore from Northern Colorado's road volleyball match at Air Force on Tuesday night shows a pretty dominant effort from the Bears in a 3-1 win that evened their season record at 2-2.

A closer survey, however, reveals a different story -- as does Northern Colorado head coach Lyndsey Benson, whose career record improved to 101-83 with the win.

Benson didn't see the match like that at all.

"I would say we survived tonight," she said afterward, following a sigh of relief. "It was just good to get out of there with a win. We were just too high error and didn't play a very fluid match."

The Bears' set loss came right at the beginning, when the Falcons charged from their pregame warm-ups and claimed a 25-21 victory before falling 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 at Falcon Court.

But that first match surely awoke some ghosts within Benson's players, who came into Tuesday on the heels of a two-match losing streak to UC Davis and Colorado. Benson thinks her team should have won those matches against the Aggies and the Buffs (it lost both 3-2), and she surely was expecting a strong showing against the Falcons on Tuesday.

The Bears, after all, came into the match with 50 all-time wins against Air Force and a 12-1 mark against it since 1991.

Well, you can make it 51 all-time wins and a 13-1 mark over the last two decades. And as you do, thank junior Kelley Arnold and freshman Tambre Haddock (TAM-burr HAD-ick).

Arnold was unstoppable, slamming down a season-high 24 kills on .465 hitting, while also handing out four assists and getting to seven digs. Haddock (Longmont, Colo.) had the best match of her young collegiate career, joining Arnold in double-figure kills with 10 against just one error (.529). She also had three digs and a block.

The Bears hit just .140 as a team in the first set before stirring to life with a .303 mark the rest of the way, including just three hitting errors in the final set.

Junior Marissa Hughes continued her strong early-season play with 47 assists, giving her a solid 10.35 assists-per-set mark, and 11 digs -- her third consecutive double-double.

"Kelley and Tambre played outstanding offensively," Benson said. "Both of those two were really tough to defend throughout tonight, and they kept us going. And I thought Marissa set a good match. Other than that, like I said, we just sort of survived. It will be good to get back in the gym and practice tomorrow -- since we went into this match without a practice -- before we head to Baylor."