Volleyball to Open Home, Big Sky Schedule With Northern Arizona on Thursday
Sept. 11, 2006
University of Northern Colorado Bears (3-6)
vs. Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks (4-5)
Match #10 * Thursday, September 14 * 6:00 p.m. MT
Greeley, Colo. * Campus Recreation Center (500)
University of Northern Colorado Bears
vs. Idaho State University Bengals (4-8)
Match #11 * Saturday, September 16 * 7:00 p.m. MT
Pocatello, Idaho * Reed Gym (3,241)
The Series: Northern Arizona leads 2-1 and Northern Colorado leads Idaho State 2-1.
The Coaches: Lyndsey Benson is 17-22 (.436) in her second season as a collegiate head coach. It is her fourth overall year with the Northern Colorado program.
Chris Campbell is 15-43 (.259) in his 3rd season at NAU and 61-86 (.415) in his 9th season overall. Mike Welch is 81-109 (.426) in his 7th season at ISU and 255-232 (.524) in his 16th season overall.
Live Stats: none
Season Tickets: Fans can take advantage of one of the best deal in college sports with the Northern Colorado Family Package. The package gets you two adult and up to four youth tickets to every 2006 volleyball match (nine in total) for the low price of $75. Tickets can be purchased by calling (970) 351-4TIX.
Internet: Log onto UNCBears.com for the latest information on the Bears program including rosters, bios, statistics, releases, feature stories, box scores and much more.
After nine matches on the road to start the season, the University of Northern Colorado volleyball team opens the home season and plays its inaugural Big Sky Conference match on Thursday when it hosts Northern Arizona (6 p.m. MT, Campus Rec Center).
The Bears conclude the week by playing at Idaho State on Saturday (7 p.m.).
THE BEAR FACTS
Northern Colorado had a rough weekend in Milwaukee, matching up with some top teams in Central Michigan, No. 11 Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee. The Bears took a set from CMU before losing 3-1 and then were swept by UW and UWM.
But playing tough non-conference competition should help the Bears starting this week when they officially begin Big Sky Conference play. The Big Sky Era in Northern Colorado Athletics starts when Northern Arizona comes to town. The Bears were picked eighth in the Big Sky preseason poll, one spot ahead of NAU. The match will be played at the Campus Recreation Center due to the fact the renovations at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion are not complete. The team, however, should be in Butler-Hancock by Sept. 28 (their next home match). Northern Colorado is 11-2 all-time in matches played in the Rec Center.
The week concludes with a trip to Pocatello, Idaho to battle Idaho State in the program's first Big Sky road match. The Bears will play three straight Big Sky road matches before returning home to face Montana State on Sept. 28.
Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks dropped two of three home matches this weekend at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament they hosted. NAU topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi but fell victim to Boise State and Florida International. Northern Arizona also has wins over Central Arkansas, Fordham and UC Riverside this season. Kim Babcock's 3.74 kills/game leads the team.
Idaho State: The Bengals, who will host Eastern Washington on Thursday before playing the Bears, topped Akron this past weekend at the New Mexico State Tournament. That win snapped a six-match losing streak; ISU has lost eight of its last 10 overall after starting the season 2-0 (and eventually 3-1). Nikki Havens leads the team with 2.86 kills/game, although four Bengal players average more than two kills/game.
Series History: Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona have played three times previously but not in 28 years, when the Bears won 3-0 in Flagstaff. NAU won the first two meetings in the series, in 1976 in Greeley and 1977 in a tournament in Tucson. Northern Colorado and Idaho State have faced off three times previously, the last time coming in the 1982 season, when ISU won 2-1 in Provo, Utah. The Bears won the first two meetings in the series, although the teams have never played in Pocatello.
NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES
Home Openers: Northern Colorado is 25-5 all-time in home openers and has won four straight at home to open the year, including a 3-0 victory over Air Force to open the 2005 season. The last time the Bears suffered a loss in their home opener was to Metro State on Sept. 4, 2001.
Conference Debuts: Thursday marks the Bears debut in the Big Sky Conference. The last time the Bears entered a conference was in 1989 when they topped Minnesota State 3-0 in their North Central Conference debut. Prior to that the Bears were a member of the Continental Divide Conference, a league the Bears also opened play with, 2-0 over Colorado Mines on Sept. 10, 1982.
Campus Recreation Center: Due to the fact that Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion is not yet done with its summer renovation, the Bears will open the season by playing in the Campus Recreation Center, a building located next door to Butler-Hancock. The team is not a stranger to the building, however, as they played the entire 2000 campaign in there, compiling a 11-1 record on its way to a NCAA Regional berth. The Bears also played one match during last season's Division I Independent Championships in the Rec Center. All-time the Bears are 11-2 (.846) in the Campus Recreation Center, suffering losses to only Augustana (2000) and Utah Valley State (2005).
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 had won 17 consecutive matches against teams from the state of Colorado before falling to Denver on Nov. 25, 2005 (the last loss prior to that had been to Colorado Christian 3-2 on Sept. 18, 2001). Overall, the Bears had won 47 of the last 48 matches they 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) before losing five straight in the state of Colorado to end the 2005 season (three at the D-I Independent Championship in Greeley and two at the DU Thanksgiving Classic). Northern Colorado has now won 47 of its last 53 matches played in the state of Colorado.
Mayne Digs Her Way Near 1,000 Dig Club: Junior Abby Mayne, the 2005 Division I Independent Co-Defensive Player of the Year, is only seven digs away from becoming the 18th member of Northern Colorado's 1,000-Dig Club. Mayne has netted 993 digs in her three-year career as a Bear. The last Northern Colorado players to join the club were Linnea Kiilsgaard and Kristi Krom, both who entered the club during the 2003 season. Mayne has had double-digit digs in 32 of her last 37 matches and in 52 of 72 career matches. She currently ranks second in the Big Sky Conference in digs/game (4.83/game).
Nationally Ranked Teams: Northern Colorado did not have to wait long to face some of the best competition in the country, as they squared off with nationally-ranked Arizona (#18) the opening weekend of the season. The Bears fell to the Wildcats by a 3-0 score in Tucson (Aug. 25). Two weeks later it was No. 11 Wisconsin, who defeated the Bears 3-0 at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Classic. Last season the Bears raced a pair of nationally-ranked teams in one weekend, taking on No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 14 Missouri; UW and MU won each match in 3-0 fashion. That had marked the first time in the Division I Era of the program that Northern Colorado had faced a nationally-ranked Division I team. Prior to that you had to go back to the AIAW days (pre-1982) to find an instance of playing an opponent of that caliber. As a Division II team, the Bears faced plenty of nationally-ranked D-II teams but never a nationally-ranked D-I team.
Stone Cold: Junior Dulcie Stone is making the most of her new found playing time. After seeing only sparse action her first two years with the program, Stone has become a key part of the Bears squad this season. Through nine matches she is first in kills (2.59/game) and second in digs (2.72/game). She registered a career-high 13 kills in the Bears 3-0 win over Siena (Aug. 26).
Bears Like a Quick Start: In a year-plus under head coach Lyndsey Benson the Bears like to get out to quick starts. Northern Colorado is 15-1 when leading a match 1-0. However, if the team falls behind early - watch out. The Bears are only 2-20 under Benson when trailing 1-0 (although one of those wins - vs. N.C. State on Sept. 2 - came this season).
Rhoads Blocks Her Way Into Record Books: Senior Lizzy Rhoads, a 2005 Division I All-Independent first-team selection, has made a splash in the Northern Colorado record books with her blocking efforts during her career. Last season she registered 140 total blocks (1.28/game) to lead the team. She recorded her 229th career block assist against Central Michigan (Sept. 8) to put her in the Bears career top 10 list. She now has 237 block assists which ranks ninth all-time. She needs 32 more total blocks to enter the top 10 in that category.
Home Sweet Home: The Bears have been nearly unbeatable at home, posting a 265-50 (.841) record at home since Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (formerly Butler-Hancock Hall) opened in 1976 and winning 47 of their last 51 matches played in the building. The Bears had a 35-match winning streak at home (the second longest Division I home-court winning streak in the country) until falling to IPFW on Nov. 11, 2005. The Bears had the longest active home winning streak in Division I until Sept. 29, 2005 when Ohio University won their 32nd in a row. Prior to the IPFW loss, Northern Colorado had not lost at home since falling to North Dakota State by a 3-2 margin on Nov. 2, 2001. Northern Colorado was a perfect 12-0 at home in 2002, 8-0 in each 2003 and 2004 and were 6-2 in 2005 (they were 6-3 overall at home - one loss at the Student Rec Center is not included in the Butler-Hancock totals). The Bears are 54-5 at Butler-Hancock since the beginning of the 1999 season (the 2000 season was played at the Student Rec Center and not included in those totals). The 35 wins in a row at home established a new school record, breaking the old record of 33 in a row set from 1985-87. The 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 Now Officially a Member of the Big Sky Conference: On July 1, 2006 Northern Colorado officially became a member of the Big Sky Conference, ending its third year run as a Division I Independent after starting the reclassification process to Division I. The team will compete against a full 18-match conference schedule and be eligible for both the conference and NCAA Tournaments. Northern Colorado in the ninth member of the Big Sky, joining Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State.
Bears Picked Eighth in Big Sky Preseason Poll: Northern Colorado was picked to finish eighth in its inaugural season of Big Sky play in a preseason vote of league coaches. Sacramento State was picked as the favorite for the fourth time in five years (they received eight of nine first place votes); the Hornets have won either the regular season or tournament titles each of the last nine years. Eastern Washington was picked second, Portland State (who received a first place vote) third, Montana State fourth, Weber State fifth, Idaho State sixth, Montana seventh and Northern Arizona ninth. The Bears first Big Sky Conference matchup is on Sept. 14 when they host Northern Arizona.
Reclassification Finished; Northern Colorado Now NCAA Tournament Eligible: The Northern Colorado volleyball team has completed the reclassification process to Division I and are eligible for both the Big Sky Conference and NCAA Tournaments this season. The Bears began the four-year reclassification process to Division I in the 2003-04 school year. While all other Northern Colorado athletic programs (besides wrestling) have one more year left in the reclassification process, volleyball and wrestling were fast-tracked through multi-division classification and became postseason eligible a year earlier than the department's other 17 sports.
BigSkyTV.org: Do you want to see every Northern Colorado Big Sky (and home non-conference games) volleyball, football, men's basketball and women's basketball game this season but cannot make it to the venues? Well with a new venture this season that is possible at BigSkyTV.org. When watching the games, fans can listen to the radio audio from either home or visiting team, participate in a live chat room and view live stats. For $99.99 per year, fans will have access to events from all conference teams. If fans want to just watch Northern Colorado events for the year, they can choose the $59.99 package. If fans want access to a month's worth of events, they can pay $49.99 for conference-wide events or $39.99 for a single team's events. Individual events cost $6.99. Revenues from subscriptions to the Northern Colorado feed go to the athletic department.
Bears Home Gets an Upgrade: A new conference is not the only thing the Bears have new about the program this season, as they move into the newly renovated Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion this season. The program's home since 1976, the building got a makeover as part of a $16 million dollar student fee referendum (that also including improvements to Jackson Soccer Stadium, Butler-Hancock Athletic Center practice fields, Butler-Hancock Tennis Complex and the addition of a practice gym). Butler-Hancock, which opened in 1976, received brand new theater-style chairback seats, a new sound system, scoreboard/message center and new entrance among other things, in helping to spruce up the building that is now over 30 years old. The construction completion will prevent the Bears from playing their first home match in the building (Sept. 14 vs. Northern Arizona) but the Bears will finally get to be in their new home on Sept. 28 when they host Montana.
Bears Earn AVCA Team Academic Award: Academics are always a priority for the Northern Colorado volleyball team and last year was no exception. Northern Colorado once again earned the AVCA Team Academic award (one of 54 Division I schools and 287 total volleyball teams to earn the honor) for the 2005-06 school year. The award (given since the 1992-93 school year) honors teams that have at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA. In 2005-06 Northern Colorado had a combined 3.57 GPA in the fall and a 3.53 GPA in the spring.
Benson Fourth Youngest D-I Volleyball Head Coach: When Lyndsey Benson assumed head coaching duties on August 9, 2005, she became the fourth youngest Division I head women's volleyball coach in the country. Entering this season Benson, 26, is still the fourth youngest coach, trailing only Kristina Hernandez of Loyola (24), Holly Strauss of Connecticut (24) and Nicole McRay (25) of Georgia Southern. Benson earned his first victory as Bears head coach Sept. 3, 2005, as the Bears topped rival Wyoming by a 3-2 margin (30-28, 24-30, 30-26, 25-30, 15-9) at the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic.
It's A Sister Thing: Sisters playing at Northern Colorado has been somewhat of a tradition over the years for the Bears. When sophomore Lenay Goble joined the program, it marked 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: Five current Bears volleyball players have a relation to someone now or in the past that have played for the Northern Colorado Athletics Program. (1) Senior Meredith Alder's mother, Carol Johnson-Klein, was an All-American volleyball player at UNC (1978-81); (2) Senior Lizzy Rhoads' father played basketball for the Bears from 1968-71; (3) Junior 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) Sophomore Lenay Goble's sister Teale was an All-American outside hitter for UNC (1999-02); (5) Junior 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.
Season Openers: After a 3-0 loss to San Francisco (Aug. 25), Northern Colorado is now 23-8 all-time in season openers, including an 8-4 mark in the last 12 years. Northern Colorado has lost its last three season openers, falling to USF this season, 3-0 at Creighton last season and 3-2 at New Mexico in 2004. Prior to those losses the team had not lost a season-opener 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).
East Coast Bound: The Bears trip to Raleigh, N.C. on Sept. 1-2 for the N.C. State Wolfpack Classic marked the second consecutive season the team has played in a tournament on the East Coast. The Bears finished with a 2-1 record and second place finish at the event. In 2005 the Bears competed at the Long Island University Classic, falling 3-2 to LIU in the championship match. The Bears have not played on the East Coast that much over the years, as this year's trip marked only the fourth time in the last six years the Bears have played in a state that touches the Atlantic Ocean.
Bears Knock Off ACC Team: With a 3-1 victory over North Carolina State on Sept. 2 in Raleigh, Northern Colorado scored its first-ever victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference team. Previously the Bears were 0-1 all-time against ACC teams, falling to Virginia Tech during the 2005 season. Northern Colorado finished 2-1 at the Wolfpack Classic, claiming second place at the event.
Schevikhoven Named MVP of Wolfpack Classic: Freshman setter Kristen Schevikhoven proved that freshmen can make big impacts when she claimed MVP honors of the N.C. State Wolfpack Classic (Sept. 1-2). Schevikhoven averaged 8.30 assists, 1.80 kills, 3.90 digs and 0.50 blocks/game in the three matches at the event, as the Bears topped Chattanooga and N.C. State and fell to Winthrop to finish second overall. Schevikhoven had a season-high 36 assists in the finale of the tournament, a 3-1 win over the host Wolfpack.
One Setter is Good, Two is Better: Northern Colorado experimented with using a 6-2 offense for the first time in recent history at the Wolfpack Classic. The Bears teamed sophomore Lauren Carter with freshman Kristen Schevikhoven to produce a punch that helped the Bears to a 2-1 record and second place finish at the event.