Volleyball wins at Denver for first time since 1997
DENVER -- Northern Colorado Volleyball held Denver to a .074 hitting percentage Tuesday night, scooped 46 digs to the Pioneers' 37 and won the block battle, nine to six, in a straight-sets win at Hamilton Gymnasium.
The Bears (6-4), who start Big Sky Conference play Thursday in Greeley against Montana, swept Denver for the second consecutive year, improved to 28-7 all-time against the Pioneers and won in Denver for the first time since 1997.
Set scores were 25-18, 25-20 and 25-22.
"It's always good to get out of here in three games," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said.
Kelley Arnold led the Bears with 10 kills and 10 digs for her team-leading 16th career double-double, and Andrea Spaustat was right behind with nine kills on .353 hitting. Brittany Crenshaw backed Spaustat, her fellow middle blocker, with six kills in the win, and she also had six blocks, moving her into the lead among her teammates in the category this season (16).
"We knew that we'd have a couple good matchups tonight," Benson said, "with Kelley hitting behind the setter, versus their tall blockers, and our middle hitters hitting slides behind the setter. And that proved to be true. We took advantage of both of those matchups.
"I thought we did some good things, serving wise, too, to take them out of their offense. Those two things were the difference in the match, from our perspective."
Northern Colorado fell behind early in the first two sets, trailing 4-1 out of the gate in set one and 14-10 near the middle of set two. It went on a few runs in each, though, and eventually gained leads it wouldn't relinquish.
The third and final set saw the Bears take control at the start, only to see Denver prove a feisty bunch in forcing seven ties and four lead changes.
Northern Colorado led 20-17 near the end of the set when Denver scored three consecutive points to tie it at 20. Benson called a timeout to rally her players -- maybe reminding them of their back-to-back losses in Hamilton when winning the first two sets -- and they responded with a 5-2 match-clinching run.
"DU is a quality team, and this has been a tough place for us to play," Benson said. "Now we'll get ready for our conference opener on Thursday."