October 15, 2013

Volleyball takes roadtrip to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah

Northern Colorado Volleyball faces Northern Arizona at 8 p.m. Thursday in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Southern Utah at 7 p.m. Saturday in Cedar City, Utah.

In a nutshell

* The Bears split their matches this past weekend with Portland State and Eastern Washington. Northern Colorado lost to Portland State in four sets on Thursday and beat the Eagles in four sets on Saturday to earn its second Big Sky victory of the season.

* Sophomore outside hitter Kendra Cunningham had a career-high 21 kills against Eastern Washington and paired them with 15 digs, giving her five double-doubles on the season.

* Freshman setter Ashley Guthrie also had her fifth double-double of the year, but hers came against Portland State with a 49-assist, 15 dig performance.

* The Bears are one of five teams in the Big Sky with four players who have at least 100 kills so far this season, along with Montana State, North Dakota, Portland State and Thursday's opponent, Northern Arizona. The Bears with at least that many kills are Alyssa Wilson (139), Andrea Spaustat (172), Brianna Strong (190) and Kendra Cunningham (198).

 * Northern Colorado is 10-4 against Northern Arizona since joining the Big Sky Conference in 2006, and prior to last splitting last season's meetings with the Lumberjacks, the Bears hadn't lost to NAU since 2008.

* The Bears went 2-0 against Southern Utah in 2012, the first year the Thunderbirds were in the Big Sky Conference. Northern Colorado had faced SUU seven times prior to last season and won each meeting. In all nine meetings, the Bears have never lost a set.

What's on deck?

* Following this set of matches, the Bears will have completed half of the conference schedule. They start the second half by hosting Montana State on Oct. 24 and Montana on Oct. 26.

Record Watch: 2013

* Junior middle blocker Andrea Spaustat sits fifth on Northern Colorado's Division I career records list for block assists (248) after passing Allison Raguse's total of 247 from 2006-09. Ahead of Spaustat for fourth is former teammate Kelley Arnold, who had 257 from 2009-12. Spaustat also has 269 total blocks, which is sixth in UNC's Division I history behind Raguse's 278.

* Senior libero Merideth Johnson is fifth on Northern Colorado's Division I list of career digs with 900. To get to fourth, she'll have to pass former teammate Kelley Arnold's total of 964 from 2009-12.  Johnson is also in 10th place for service aces in UNC's Division I history with 52. Spaustat isn't too far behind with 51.

* Junior middle blocker Brianna Strong is in sixth place on Northern Colorado's Division I record list with 27 solo blocks in her career. Strong is tied for ninth place in total blocks in UNC's Division I history with 200 with former teammate Brittany Crenshaw (2009-12). Danelle Angus (2003-04) had 230 in her career and is in eighth place.

Scouting Northern Arizona

* The Lumberjacks are 12-5 overall this season with wins over Mountain West foe San Diego State, which is now 9-7, in three sets and Idaho State and Portland State, the two other teams NAU currently shares second place with in the Big Sky with 6-2 league records.

* NAU also lost in four sets, despite winning game one, against Cal State Northridge, a team that is currently 15-3 and receiving votes in the AVCA coaches' poll.

* The Lumberjacks are third in the Big Sky in hitting percentage (.233) and are holding opponents to a league-best .156 percentage. NAU is also leading the conference in blocks per set at 2.60.

Scouting Southern Utah

* The Thunderbirds are the only team in the league that has not yet reached 700 kills and average a conference-worst 10.31 kills per set while hitting .140, also the worst in the Big Sky.

* Though SUU is the only team without at least two players with 100 or more kills so far (Kylie Schofield is its only one with 184), it does have three others who are very close to that mark in Ann Clappier (99), Annie Stradling (95) and Alissa Younart (93).