Volleyball Comes Back To Down Montana 3-2 In Big Sky Tourney
Nov. 16, 2006
SACRAMENTO - History was made on Thursday evening when the fifth-seeded University of Northern Colorado volleyball team won its first-ever Big Sky Conference Tournament match after it came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the No. 4-seed Montana Grizzlies 3-2 at the Hornets Nest.
"This was a huge win for our program," said head coach Lyndsey Benson. "To come out and beat a team that swept us in the regular season was tremendous."
In the early parts of the match, the Bears (13-15) jumped out on top of a Montana team that swept Northern Colorado in the regular season, including a disappointing 3-2 loss at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on Sept. 30. Following a kill by Crotteau in the first game, the Bears took control with a 10-9 lead. Abby Mayne's service ace a few points later capped off a 4-1 run that gave Northern Colorado a 16-11 lead. The Grizzlies got as close as 24-21 in the game, but Crotteau was able to lead the team the rest of the way with two kills and a block to help Northern Colorado to a 30-24 first game victory.
Montana (12-15) clawed back in the second game to even the match with a 30-25 win. The Bears led 21-20 late in the game, but seven straight points by the Grizzlies put it out of reach for Northern Colorado.
The same trend of not being able to hold a lead followed the Bears into the third game, as they held a 12-8 advantage over the Grizzlies. A big run by Montana once again put Northern Colorado against the ropes, as the Grizzlies scored eight straight points to take a 16-12 lead. The Bears closed to within 27-24 late in the game following a block by Meredith Alder and Schevikhoven, but a kill and a block by Montana's Emily Sakis was all the Grizzlies needed to claim a 30-25 third game victory.
Northern Colorado did not panic, it got tough. The Bears dug in for the fourth game, going up by as many as 10 when they led 24-14. Montana then scored five straight, but Northern Colorado answered with a 6-2 run highlighted by two kills and two blocks from Alder that allowed it to close out the fourth game 30-21.
"I thought our players played tougher at the end of the match," Benson said, "and I was pleased with how they played intensity and showed how important this match was."
Three straight points by the Bears in the final game put Northern Colorado in the driver's seat, but Montana came back with three points to tie the game. Both teams were locked in a dead-heat at 7-7 when a kill by Crotteau sparked a 3-0 run highlighted by two kills from Lenay Goble to give the Bears a 10-7 lead. The Grizzlies tried to stay in it, but the Bears had an answer for every Montana attack. An attack error by Schevikhoven helped pull the Grizzlies to within 14-11 of the Bears, but Rhoads closed out the upset with a kill.
Northern Colorado won the blocking battle with Montana with a 28-13 advantage, which was something Benson thought was crucial to the team's success.
"We did a great job of blocking tonight," Benson said. "I told them if we could win the blocking battle, we'd have a chance to win the match because Montana is a good blocking team."
Northern Colorado will move on to face the No. 1-seed Sacramento State Hornets tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. mountain time. The Hornets defeated the Bears in both regular season meetings this year.