Volleyball can't finish off Idaho State
GREELEY -- After Northern Colorado earned a dominating win in set two Saturday night to go ahead 2-0 in its match against Idaho State at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, it looked the Bears were well on their way to their 12th consecutive victory against the Bengals.
Instead, Idaho State, which had taken Northern Colorado to five sets in four consecutive matches coming into the night, came out an inspired bunch after intermission and handed the Bears a 3-2 loss and their first defeat in the series since 1982.
Set scores were 25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 20-25, 13-15.
The Bears (12-7, 6-2 Big Sky) hit .290 before the break, including a sizzling .455 in the second set, but managed just to hit just .097 in the final three sets to lose for just the second time ever (13-2) against Idaho State (11-8, 5-3).
"We weren't aggressive in (sets) three, four and five, and our passing broke down," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We were either getting aced or passing from the 10-foot line, where we couldn't get [junior] Kelley [Arnold] and [freshman] Andrea [Spaustat] the ball. I mean, they served aggressive, and we backed off. That became the main component of (sets) three, four and five, was serving and passing."
Northern Colorado actually started well after the break, taking an 8-2 lead in the third set on a Spaustat kill off a set from junior Marissa Hughes, who finished with 51 assists, eight digs, three blocks and three kills.
The Bengals, however, punched the Bears in the mouth by scoring 14 of the set's next 19 points and claiming a win and all the momentum in the match.
In the fifth set, Northern Colorado led 9-7 just after the court change but saw Idaho State reel off a 7-1 run to go ahead 14-10.
"We've got to finish a match," Benson said. "There were some components of that match that I liked, and I thought we did some good things. We were obviously prepared for them. But we've got to push back when a team battles. We knew they would be a team that battled—their biggest strength is that they're feisty and confident, and we didn't handle that very well tonight."
Arnold finished with 20 kills, giving her 960 for her career and leaving her just 40 away from becoming the 15th player in school history with 1,000 career kills. Arnold also got to 17 digs against Idaho State and notched her eighth double-double of the season and the 20th of her career.
Sophomore Alyssa Wilson had 11 kills and four digs, and Spaustat finished with 11 kills and tied Arnold with five blocks. Senior Amanda Arterburn scooped 28 digs for her 16th consecutive double-digit digs performance.
But it was all for naught to Benson after the match because she knows her team let an opportunity slip through its grasp—and on its home court, no less, where the Bears fell to 5-3 this season and 27-10 in the last three seasons
Northern Colorado has lost back-to-back just once this season, though (UC Davis, Colorado), so, Benson knows her team is capable of bouncing back from a frustrating performance.
She just hopes it can do it again this week, when the Bears travel to Montana State (Friday, Oct. 21) and Montana (Saturday, Oct. 22).
"Any loss can be a good learning experience if we take it that way," Benson said. "Luckily, (Sacramento) State lost (Friday), so, in terms of conference standings we're going to be fine … if we learned a lesson. My concern is these same things might come back up if we don't get them fixed Monday in practice."