August 22, 2005

Volleyball Opens 2005 Season at Bluejay Invitational

Aug. 22, 2005

Bluejay Invitational Game Notes in PDF Format
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University of Northern Colorado Bears (0-0)
at Bluejay Invitational
Omaha, Neb. * Omaha Civic Auditorium (9,377)

vs. Creighton Bluejays (0-0)
Match #1 * Friday, August 26, 2005 * 4:00 p.m. MT

vs. Iowa State Cyclones (0-0)
Match #2 * Saturday, August 27, 2005 * 11:00 a.m. MT

The Series: Northern Colorado leads Creighton 1-0 and Iowa State 3-1. UNC has not faced Iowa State since 1982.

The Coaches: Lyndsey Benson is 0-0 (.000) in her first season as a collegiate head coach. It is her third overall year with the Northern Colorado program.

Kirsten Bernthal Booth is 30-29 in her third year as coach at Creighton.

Christy Johnson enters her first season as a head coach with Iowa State in 2005.

Live Stats: Live stats available through links at GoCreighton.com and UNCBears.com.

GAME INFORMATION
The University of Northern Colorado women's volleyball team opens the 2005 season at the Creighton Bluejay Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The Bears square off with Creighton in the opening match on Friday afternoon and will challenge Iowa State, for the first time in 23 years, on Saturday morning.

THE BEAR FACTS
Northern Colorado begins its final year as a Division I Independent (UNC joins the Big Sky Conference in 2006-07) with 10 returning players but only two returning starters. The Bears did lose the services of two-time All-American Erin Deffenbaugh but return several big hitters, including Amanda Wiggins and Lizzy Rhoads. Rhoads had 13 kills for the Bears in an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday night.

Also back is 2004 Division I Independent Setter of the Year Corrinne Chapin. Chapin's 1,683 assists in 2004 was the fourth highest single-season total in school history.

The season is the first as head coach for Lyndsey Benson, who served as an assistant coach the past two years. Benson takes over for Ron Alexander who resigned on Aug. 9. Benson, who is 25 years old, is currently the fourth youngest head coach in Division I.

The Bears return home and will travel to the Wyoming Cowgirl Invitational the following weekend when they take on Boise State and host Wyoming.

UNC opens its home schedule on Sept. 13 when Air Force comes to Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

OPPONENT INFORMATION

Creighton: Creighton returns four starters from last year's team that was 18-11 overall and lost to Northern Colorado at the Comcast Lobo Invitational. The Bluejays finished fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference a year ago and are 30-29 in two years under current head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. On Saturday, the Bluejays topped their Alumni 4-1 in an exhibition contest. Carolyn Decker had 20 kills to lead CU.

Iowa State: The Cyclones have 11 players and four starters back from a team that was 8-20 overall and 1-19 in the Big 12 a year ago. Iowa State will look to first-year head coach Christy Johnson, a 1996 Nebraska graduate, to help turn the program around. Iowa State and Creighton will meet on Saturday night at 7 p.m. central time.

Series History: The Bears won the only meeting with Creighton which occurred a year ago, winning 3-1 at the New Mexico Comcast Lobo Invitational. Iowa State and the Bears played four times from 1978-82, all at neutral sites. UNC won three of those matchups (twice in Manhattan, Kan. and once in Tulsa at tournaments) while Iowa State won the 1980 meeting (2-1).

NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES

Benson Named Head Coach: Lyndsey Benson was named the fourth head coach in Northern Colorado volleyball history (Rosemary Fri, Linda Delk, Ron Alexander) on Aug. 9 following the resignation of Alexander. Alexander, who compiled an 88-14 record in three years as head coach, resigned to take a position as a firefighter for the Union Colony Fire Rescue Authority in Greeley and spend more time with his family. Graduate assistant Lindsay Wischmeier was promoted to a full-time assistant position. Wischmeier played in every match of her four-year career at Nebraska and was the program's first-ever libero. She set the NU record for career digs (1,111) and averaged 3.35 digs/game for her career and helped NU to the 2000 National Championship. "I am excited and honored that at this stage in my coaching career, I have been afforded such an opportunity," Benson said. "We have a great group of leaders that will help with the transition, and this season is about the athletes, not about the coaching transition. We have a very talented group of student-athletes that have trained very hard in the off-season preparing for this fall. I expect this team to be very successful. Coaching is my passion and the University of Northern Colorado is not just another school for me. It is in my hometown, I attended Northern Colorado matches and camps as a child, and I wholeheartedly believe in the vision of Northern Colorado athletics and the volleyball program."

Benson is Fourth Youngest D-I Volleyball Head Coach: When Lyndsey Benson assumed head coaching duties on August 9, she became the fourth youngest Division I head women's volleyball coach in the country. Benson, 25, trails only Kristina Hernandez of Loyola (23), Allison Magner of UAB (24) and Holly Strauss of Connecticut (24) as far as youngest coaches.

Season Openers: Northern Colorado is 23-6 all-time in season openers, including an 8-2 mark in the last 10 years. The Bears dropped last year's season opener to New Mexico (3-2) but had not lost a season opener prior to that since a 3-1 loss to UC Davis in 1996. Other season opening loses include West Texas State (1990), Regis (1988), Texas (1977) and Northern Arizona (1976).

Northern Colorado to Host 2005 Division I Independent Championships: Northern Colorado will host the 6th annual Division I Independent Championships Nov. 10-12 at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The eight teams competing in the event will be IPFW, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Providence, South Dakota State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley State. Northern Colorado captured the team title in 2003 (with a 4-0 record) and tied for first last season (with a 5-1 record) before eventually losing a tiebreaker with IPFW and South Dakota State. The teams will compete in round-robin pool play on the 10th and 11th with the championship rounds being held all day (10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) on the 12th. The Bears play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas-Pan American and defending champion IPFW in pool play before advancing to the championship rounds. A full schedule of events can be accessed at: http://uncbears.collegesports.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/051105aac.html.

Home Sweet Home: The Bears have been nearly unbeatable at home, posting a 259-48 (.844) record at home since Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (formerly Butler-Hancock Hall) opened in 1976. The Bears currently have a 29-match winning streak at home (the second longest in the country, trailing only Hawaii's 38 straight), last losing to North Dakota State by a 3-2 margin on Nov. 2, 2001. UNC was a perfect 12-0 at home in 2002 and 8-0 in each 2003 and 2004. The Bears are 48-3 at home since the beginning of the 1999 season (the 2000 season was played at the Student Rec Center and not included in those totals). The program record for home wins in a row is 33 set from 1985-87. The UNC volleyball team played its 300th match in Butler-Hancock on Sept. 7, 2004 defeating the Wyoming Cowgirls 3-0 in front of 914 fans.

Bears Keep Drawing a Crowd: In eight home matches in 2004, the Bears drew 6,098 total fans for an average of 762, which was just 11 fans off the school record of 773 set during the 2002 season. That average was bolstered by 1,065 fans that saw the Bears play Utah Valley State on Nov. 6. That was the fifth largest crowd in Butler-Hancock Hall history and largest since 1,376 fans saw the Bears defeat South Dakota State for the North Central Regional Championship on Nov. 23, 2002. Since the beginning of the 2002 season the program has set seven of the top-10 and 12 of the top-20 crowds in Butler-Hancock history.

Sisters Square Off: When Northern Colorado and Boise State square off on Sept. 2 at the Wyoming Cowgirl Invitational, a family will be divided (at least as far as their rooting interests go). When Northern Colorado junior middle blocker Meredith (Klein) Alder looks across the net she will see her younger sister Mandy Klein, a setter for the Broncos. Meredith and Mandy's mother, Carol Johnson-Klein, was an All-American at Northern Colorado in the early 80's and went on to serve as an assistant under Hall of Fame coach Linda Delk in 1982.

Chapin Paces Offense: In her first year as a starter in 2004, setter Corrinne Chapin paced the Bears offense on her way to Division I Independent Setter of the Year honors. Chapin dished out 1,683 assists in 131 games (12.85/game), which was the fourth highest total in school history behind Tatjana Smith (1,730), Michelle White (1,706) and Inge Otte (1,685). She enters the season 1,936 assists out of fifth place in school history, and although she probably won't reach that mark, she has a good chance to finish sixth all-time.

Bears Rack Up Wins to End Last Year: After 10 matches last season, the Bears were an even 5-5 and faced the possibility of having a below .500 winning percentage for the first time in several years. But the Bears responded by winning 20 of their final 24 matches of the season to finish with a 25-9 record overall, marking the 22nd time (in 29 total season), that UNC had won 20 or more games in a season.

Colorado Success: The Bears volleyball team has had tremendous success in matches played in the state of Colorado and against teams from the state of Colorado. UNC has won 16 consecutive matches against teams from the state of Colorado, last losing to Colorado Christian (3-2) on Sept. 18, 2001. Overall, the Bears have won 41 of the last 42 matches they've played in the state of Colorado (against all opponents), only dropping a 3-2 match to CS-San Bernardino on Sept. 6, 2003 at the Premier Challenge in Denver. In order to keep that first streak alive the task will be tough this year, as the Bears have matches against three in-state opponents: Air Force (Sept. 13), Denver (Nov. 25) and Colorado (Nov. 26).

How Sweep It Is: Over the past three seasons (2002-04), the Bears have won 56 matches (out of 102 total matches) in 3-0 fashion (including 25 of their 32 total victories during the 2003 season, which was a school record, and 13 times in 2004). On the other hand, opponents have a very hard time of sweeping Northern Colorado, as the Bears have been swept only three times in that time period (Oct. 3, 2002 at Augustana, Sept. 18, 2004 at Utah and Sept. 29, 2004 at Wichita State). At home over the past three years, the team has swept 17 of the 28 total matches it has played.

Bears Increase Win Streak on Tuesday's: With a 3-1 win over Weber State on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004, UNC won for the 14th consecutive time on a Tuesday, dating back to Oct. 16, 2001 when the Bears lost 3-1 at Nebraska-Omaha. In 2005 the Bears only have one match on a Tuesday (Sept. 13 against the Air Force Academy).

SEASON NOTES

The Continued Move to Division I: The 2005-06 sports season marks year No. 3 in the "reclassification" process to Division I for the Bears. On May 10, 2002 the UNC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a move for the Northern Colorado intercollegiate athletics program to NCAA Division I. The 2002-03 sports year marked the last season for the Bears in the North Central Conference and the NCAA Division II level and was an "exploratory" year in the move. 2003-04 was the first season of the four-year reclassification period and last season (2004-05) marked year No. 2 before the program officially becomes a Division I school in 2007-08.

Bears to Join Big Sky Conference in 2006-07: As the Bears continue the reclassification to Division I, they have finally found a conference home. On July 1, 2006, the program will officially become a member of the Big Sky Conference and will compete against a full BSC schedule in 2006-07. The department's programs will not be eligible for Big Sky championships or NCAA berths until 2007-08, the program's first full year of Division I competition. Volleyball, however, was one of two UNC programs (wrestling being the other) that filed a petition with the NCAA and they will be eligible for NCAA postseason play beginning in 2006-07. In the Big Sky, the Bears will compete against the other eight Big Sky teams: Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State.

Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion to Get Upgrade: With the move to Division I and the Big Sky Conference, a student referendum was passed in April 2005, which gave $16 million dollars in improvements for Northern Colorado athletic facilities. Part of that money will go to renovating Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion with construction set to begin in May 2006 and be completed by August 2006 in time for the Bears to begin their first Big Sky Conference season. Butler-Hancock, which opened in 1976, will get brand new theater-style chairback seats and a new sound system among other things, in helping to spruce up the building that is now 30 years old.

Division I Independents: Once again this season, eight NCAA Division I Independent women's volleyball teams have joined forces to award Player of the Week awards. The teams are IPFW, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Providence, South Dakota State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley State. Awards and statistics will be released on each Tuesday of the season starting Sept. 6. An index of award winners and other information on D-I Independent volleyball can be found at: http://uncbears.collegesports.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/071905aab.html.

First Canadian Playing For Bears: Freshman Natasha Jmaeff holds a special distinction in Northern Colorado volleyball history; she is the first Canadian to play for the program. Jmaeff, a native of Crescent Valley, British Columbia, was the MVP of the British Columbia Provincial Championships in 2004.

Success Over the Past Three Years: Entering the 2005 season, over the past there seasons (2002-04), the Bears have won 88 matches, seventh most among all Division I schools (Hawaii has the most at 100). In that time frame they have lost only 14 times, fifth best in the country (Hawaii leads the way with only five losses).

Bears Say Bye to Deffenbaugh: The 2005 season marks the first without All-American Erin Deffenbaugh since 2000, as the school's all-time leader in kills graduated following last season. Deffenbaugh finished her career No. 1 all-time in career attacks (6,465 - a Div. II mark because of the Bears transition to Div. I) and No. 3 in career kills (2,529).

A Sister Thing: When redshirt freshman Lenay Goble sets foot on the court this year, it'll mark the eighth time a set of sisters has played volleyball at Northern Colorado. Her sister Teale was an All-American from 1999-02 and served as an assistant coach in 2003. Six of the eight sets of sisters to play at Northern Colorado have done so at the same time.

It's All One Big Happy Family: Six current Bears volleyball players have a relation to someone now or in the past that have played for the UNC Athletics Program. (1) Junior Meredith Alder's mother, Carol Johnson-Klein, was an All-American volleyball player at UNC (1978-81); (2) Junior Lizzy Rhoads father played basketball for the Bears from 1968-71; (3) Sophomore Dulcie Stone's father played basketball (1971-74) for the Bears as did her uncle Don (1968-71) and her uncle Dale was a UNC football player (1974-77); (4) Redshirt freshman Lenay Goble's sister Teale was an All-American outside hitter for UNC (1999-02); (5) Sophomore Dani Veal's uncles' Dennis (1984-86) and Darren (1991-93) both wrestled while at Northern Colorado; (6) Freshman Abby Mayne's father did not play athletics at UNC, but he is currently the UNC Band Director, giving him a close association with the UNC athletics programs.