November 13, 2006

Volleyball to Begin Big Sky Tournament Play on Thursday

Nov. 13, 2006

Big Sky Tournament Notes in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

University of Northern Colorado Bears (12-15, 7-9 Big Sky)
at 2006 Big Sky Conference Tournament
Sacramento, Calif. * Hornets Nest (1,200)

vs. University of Montana Grizzlies (12-14, 9-7 Big Sky)
Match #28 * Thursday, November 16, 2006 * 8:30 p.m. MT

Big Sky Tournament Semifinals (Portland State or Sacramento State)
Match #29 * Friday, November 17, 2006 * 6 or 8:30 p.m. MT

Big Sky Tournament Championship
Match #30 * Saturday, November 18, 2006 * 8:00 p.m. MT

The Series: Montana leads Northern Colorado 2-1. Portland State leads 8-2, Sacramento State leads 5-0. Northern Colorado leads Weber State 10-2. The series with Eastern Washington is tied 1-1.

The Coaches: Lyndsey Benson is 26-31 (.456) in her second season as a collegiate head coach. It is her fourth overall year with the Northern Colorado program.

Jerry Wagner is 12-14 (.462) in his 1st season at Montana.

Live Stats: none

BigSkyTV.org: All Northern Colorado Big Sky volleyball matches (and home non-conference matches) can be seen live (and also on-demand) through the first-year venture BigSkyTV.org. Packages to see all Northern Colorado volleyball, football and men's and women's basketball games start as low of $59.99. For more information log onto www.BigSkyTV.org.

GAME INFORMATION
The University of Northern Colorado volleyball team will begin its second season this week - the postseason - when it participates in the 2006 Big Sky Conference Volleyball Tournament, being held in Sacramento, Calif.

THE BEAR FACTS
The volleyball Bears are the first Northern Colorado team to be eligible for postseason since the program began its reclassification to Division I in 2002-03. The volleyball team is eligible for both conference and NCAA postseason this season, a year ahead most every other Bears team (due to multi-division classification, which the volleyball team did with the Bears wrestling program).

Northern Colorado limped a little bit into the Big Sky Tournament, losing all four matches during their final home stand of the season. The matches were to four of the other five teams that made the Big Sky Tournament, including No. 1 and No. 2 seeds Sacramento State and Portland State. The Bears are 2-8 in matches against teams that made the tournament this season.

The Bears open the event with Montana, a team that won both meetings with Northern Colorado. That included a win in Greeley that saw the Bears blow a 9-point lead in game one only to lose in five sets.

If the Bears defeat the Griz, they would face either Sacramento State or Portland State, depending on who wins the other quarterfinal matchup (between Eastern Washington and Weber State).

Dulcie Stone's 16 double-doubles and 2.99 kills/game leads the team going into the tournament.

NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES

Bears Are No. 5 Seed in Big Sky Tournament: Northern Colorado will be the No. 5 seed in this year's Big Sky Tournament, making the tournament in the program's first year of eligibility after finishing the reclassification to Division I. It will mark the first conference tournament for the program since the 1993 season. Previously the Bears had competed in the Division II North Central Conference, which did not have a year-end tournament from 1994 through 2002. Northern Colorado is 12-7 all-time in conference tournaments - 7-4 in North Central Conference competition (1989-93) and 5-3 in Continental Divide Conference Tournaments (1982-84).

Alder Named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team: Senior middle blocker Meredith Alder was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Volleyball University Division second team in November. The awards are sponsored by CoSIDA. Alder carries a 3.86 GPA in audiology/speech language, was one of 20 players from District VII to receive the prestigious honor.

Bears Sign Two to National Letters of Intent: The Bears announced the signing of two student-athletes to national letters of intent during the fall early signing period on Nov 9. Ashley Lichtenberg (Bettendorf, Iowa/Bettendorf H.S.) and Julie Stephenson (Augusta, Kan./Augusta H.S.) will join the Bears program in 2007. Lichtenberg (6'2, OH) plays for her mother, Diane, at Bettendorf High School where she was a 4A all-state selection as a junior (2005) and should repeat that feat when the awards are announced this season. This season she has once again helped the Bulldogs to the Iowa State Tournament. She is a two-time all-conference selection and was the Mississippi Athletic Conference (MAC) Player of the Year as a junior in 2005. A team captain, she was an All-Tournament selection at the 2005 State Championship, where Bettendorf finished as the runner-up. She played club volleyball with the Iowa Rockets. Stephenson (5'11, OH) played for coach Brian Hallmark at Augusta High School in Augusta, Kan. She helped the Orioles to a second-place finish at the Kansas State 4A Tournament and a 38-4 overall record. For her efforts she was named to the state all-tournament team. Stephenson played club volleyball with Molten Shockwave. "Both of our signees are exactly what we are looking for in a student-athlete to represent our university," said Benson. "They are quality people, great students and can take us to the next level in the Big Sky Conference. Both athletes come from good high school and club programs that will prepare them for the transition to the college level."

Stone Named Student-Athlete for the Month of October: Junior Dulcie Stone was named the Northern Colorado Female Student-Athlete of the Month for October. Stone recorded a double-double in seven of the team's eight games in the month, and the Bears won five matches during that span. In October, Stone averaged a team-high 3.10 kills/game and 3.52 digs/game, which was second best on the team. Stone stepped up her play both offensively and defensively as the team began to wind down its first trip through Big Sky Conference play. In an October 7 match against Weber State, Stone set a new season and career-high with 19 kills. Two week later, playing against Northern Arizona she again set a career milestone with a 20-dig performance. Stone closed out her month of stellar play with yet another career best; a four-block effort against Montana State.

Forcing a Fifth Set: On Nov. 3, Northern Colorado fell behind 2-0 to Portland State but rallied in games three and four to force a fifth set on its home court. However, with the scored 12-11 in the final set, PSU scored the final three points to hand the Bears a fifth set loss. The last time the Bears fell behind 2-0 and came back to win was on Sept. 3, 2002 when they topped #13 Metro State 3-2 on the Roadrunners home court.

Four Losses in a Row at Home: Northern Colorado finished the regular season by losing four in a row at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The four straight losses in Butler-Hancock marked the first time that had occurred since the 1996 season. That season was the only losing campaign for legendary coach Linda Delk and the Bears lost their last five home matches of the year.

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 27 matches she is first in kills (2.99/game). She set a career-high with 19 kills in a 3-2 win over Weber State (Oct. 7) and a career-high with 20 digs in a 3-2 loss at Northern Arizona (Oct. 21). She is first on the Bears team this season with 16 double-doubles.

Mayne Digs Her Way Into 1,000 Dig Club and Top 10: Junior Abby Mayne, the 2005 Division I Independent Co-Defensive Player of the Year, became the 18th member of the Bears 1,000-Dig Club on Sept. 14 against Northern Arizona. She is the first player to join the club since the 2003 season when both Linnea Kiilsgaard and Kristi Krom became members. Mayne joined the Bears Top 10 Digs Club on Nov. 11, a 3-1 loss to Sacramento State. Mayne has now netted 1,244 digs in here three-year career, which is the 10th highest total in program history; she is 30 digs out of 9th place. She has had double-digit digs in 22 of 26 matches this season, 46 of her last 54 matches and in 66 of 90 career matches. She currently ranks sixth in the Big Sky Conference in digs/game (4.25/game). She missed one match this season (Montana on Sept. 30) due to injury.

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 251 block assists which ranks sixth all-time, only five out of fifth place. She has 337 career total blocks which ranks seventh all-time in program history; she joined that top 10 list following a seven-block performance against Idaho State (Oct. 12). Rhoads needs one block to move to sixth on the Bears career list. Rhoads netted a career-high 19 kills in the Bears 3-1 win at Montana State (Oct. 28).

Home Sweet Home: The Bears have been nearly unbeatable at home, posting a 268-55 (.830) record at home since Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (formerly Butler-Hancock Hall) opened in 1976 and winning 49 of their last 58 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, were 6-2 in 2005 (they were 6-3 overall at home - one loss at the Campus Rec Center is not included in the Butler-Hancock totals) and 3-5 this season (not including a match in the Campus Rec Center). The Bears are 56-10 at Butler-Hancock since the beginning of the 1999 season (the 2000 season was played at the Campus 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 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 23-3 when leading a match 1-0. However, if the team falls behind early - watch out. The Bears are only 3-27 under Benson when trailing 1-0 (although two of those wins - vs. N.C. State on Sept. 2 and vs. Northern Arizona on Sept. 14 - came this season).

Fifth Set Victory: Northern Colorado earned its first fifth set victory of the season on Oct. 7 when they topped Weber State (30-24, 30-23, 24-30, 20-30, 15-11). Overall the Bears have played four five-setters this season; Montana topped the Bears 3-2 on Sept. 30, Northern Arizona won 3-2 on Oct. 21 and Portland State won on Nov. 4. The Weber win was the team's first fifth set victory since topping South Dakota State 3-2 on Oct. 7, 2005. Northern Colorado is 3-5 in five-set matches of the past two years and 9-9 in five setters over the last three seasons.

SEASON NOTES

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.

Bears Make Impressive Conference Debut: Northern Colorado wasted no time winning in the Big Sky Conference, as the Bears topped Northern Arizona (Sept. 14) 3-1 in its inaugural Big Sky Conference match and then turned around and won its first-ever Big Sky road match, topping Idaho State 3-1 (Sept. 16). 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.

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.

Bears 4-1 Start Was Best-Ever By A First-Year Big Sky Member: Northern Colorado got off to a 4-1 start in the Big Sky this season, its inaugural year of play in the conference. The Bears started with a 2-0 record (beating Northern Arizona and Idaho State) before falling at Portland State and beating Eastern Washington and then Montana State. Three other teams have joined the Big Sky Conference since the NCAA-era of volleyball began (Eastern Washington in 1987 and Sacramento State and Portland State in 1996). Of those teams Northern Colorado's start was the best-ever in the conference, topping a 3-2 record by Eastern Washington, a 0-4 start by Portland State and a 2-2 beginning by Sacramento State. The best first-year conference record overall is held by Sacramento State in 1996; after starting 2-2 they rolled off seven straight wins and eventually finished that season 12-4 in conference play.

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).

Home Openers: Following the Bears 3-1 win over Northern Arizona (Sept. 14), Northern Colorado is now 26-5 all-time in home openers and has won five straight at home to open the year. The last time the Bears suffered a loss in their home opener was to Metro State on Sept. 4, 2001.

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.

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.

Rekindling Old Rivalries: The Bears are making some new friends this season as first-year members of the Big Sky, but they are also renewing old rivalries. Northern Colorado's match with Northern Arizona (Sept. 14) was the first between the teams since 1978 and the meeting with Idaho State (Sept. 16) was the first since 1982. The Bears have not played Sacramento State (who they match-up with Oct. 5) since 1984. UNC has played Montana, Montana State, Portland State and Weber State within the past three two years and faced off with Eastern Washington for the first time on Sept. 23.

Campus Recreation Center: Due to the fact that Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion was not yet done with its summer renovation, the Bears opened 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 an 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. After the season-opening 3-1 win over Northern Arizona (Sept. 14), the Bears are 12-2 (.857) all-time in the Campus Recreation Center, suffering losses to only Augustana (2000) and Utah Valley State (2005).

Bears Out-Hit Griz and Lose: The Bears out-hit Montana (Sept. 30) by a .173 to .152 and lost. It marked the first time in two years under head coach Lyndsey Benson that the Bears had out-hit an opponent and lost. The team had been 20-0 entering the match in those situations. The Bears may have won the match anyway, had they not blown a 9-point lead (25-16) in game one, a game Montana won 30-28.

Idaho State Plays in Greeley For First Time Since 1981: When Idaho State played in Bears at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on Oct. 12, it marked the first time since the 1981 season that the Bengals played in Greeley. In the 2006 contest senior Meredith Alder led the team with 11 kills. Ironically the last time Idaho State played in Greeley, Alder's mother - Carol Johnson-Klein - was an All-American on the Bears team.

Bears Increase Win Streak on Tuesday's: Northern Colorado had just one match on a Tuesday this season, when they topped Air Force 3-0 on Oct. 24. The win was the 16th in a row on a Tuesday for the Bears, who have not lost on a Tuesday since Oct. 16, 2001 when the Bears lost to Nebraska-Omaha by a 3-1 margin.

Schevikhoven Reaches 70 Assist Plateau: Freshman setter Kristen Schevikhoven became the first Bears to reach the 70 assist plateau in four years on Oct. 28 at Montana State when she netted 71 in a 3-1 victory over the Bobcats. Schevikhoven was the first Bear since All-American Linnea Kiilsgaard had 70 assists against South Dakota State on Nov. 1, 2002. Schevikhoven's 71 assists was a high among all Big Sky setters this season.

Crotteau Hits 20+ Kills: Freshman Devon Crotteau became the first Bears player to have 20 or more kills in a match this season when she had a career-high 24 kills in a 3-1 win at Montana State (Oct. 28).

Mayne Matches Career High in Digs: Junior libero Abby Mayne matched her career-high with 29 digs in a 3-1 win at Montana State (Oct. 28). She also matched that high against Florida Atlantic in 2005. She was only one dig away from becoming the first Bear to hit 30+ digs since Teale Goble had 37 digs in a win over Augustana in 2002.