Peers tab Benson Big Sky Conference's best in 2009
OGDEN, Utah -- Northern Colorado head coach Lyndsey Benson has been named the 2009 Big Sky Coach of the Year after leading the Bears to their first-ever conference title last Saturday with a 3-1 victory against Portland State.
The honor is the first for Benson, who was selected in a vote by her fellow conference coaches, and the first for any Northern Colorado coach since it joined the Big Sky Conference in 2006.
The Bears are set to face the Washington Huskies today in Fort Collins in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
Northern Colorado entered last week's s Big Sky tournament as the No. 3-seed, but it quickly knocked off second-seeded Eastern Washington in the semifinals and the top-seed Vikings in the championship match to claim the title.
The weekend was a historical one for Northern Colorado as Benson's program became the first Northern Colorado team to win a Big Sky Conference Championship.
Benson coached four of her players to all-conference honors in 2009. Senior Allison Raguse was named to the first team, while senior Kenzie Shreeve and freshman Marissa Hughes were named to the second team. Taylor Smith received honorable mention accolades. Shreeve was this year's tournament MVP, and Raguse and Hughes earned all-tournament honors.
Benson took over the volleyball program on August 8, 2005, just three days prior to the start of camp. She first joined the Bears as a graduate assistant in 2003 and was promoted to full-time assistant in December of 2004. Just eight month later she began her journey as head coach.
Northern Colorado notched 14 wins in 2005. It was the Bears' inaugural season at the NCAA Division I level and Benson's first at the head of the program. They took fourth-place at the NCAA Division I Independent Championship that year.
She continued that momentum in 2006, leading Northern Colorado to a 13-16 overall and 7-9 league record. The Bears advanced to the Big Sky Championship in their first season of eligibility and earned a quarterfinal win over Montana. Northern Colorado has made it to the postseason tournament every year since.
The native of Eaton, Colo. spent the 2002 season as an assistant coach at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., She was raised in Colorado and was a standout at Eaton High, where she earned all-state honors three times and set the state record for career kills with 981.
Benson played Division I volleyball at Louisiana State and was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection. She earned a degree in mass communications in 2002, before completing her master's degree in athletic administration at Northern Colorado in December 2004.