Volleyball makes it 12 straight against Montana State
BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Things didn't start well for Northern Colorado Volleyball on Friday at Montana State, but then it was business as usual for the Bears in a 3-1 win against the Bobcats at Shroyer Gym.
Northern Colorado (13-7, 7-2 Big Sky) saw its set losing streak grow to a season-long four sets right out of the gate with a 24-26 loss before rebounding with 25-19, 25-23 and 25-16 wins in sets two, three and four to stay in first place in the Big Sky Conference and improve to 12-3 all-time against Montana State (3-17, 2-7).
The Bears, who improved to 6-1 all-time in Bozeman and knocked off the Bobcats for the 12th consecutive time, hit .248 in the victory, getting outstanding efforts from true-freshman Andrea Spaustat and junior star Kelley Arnold.
Spaustat, the Big Sky's top hitter, had 11 kills with just two errors for a .391 hitting percentage, while Arnold moved ever closer to the 1,000-career kills mark with 24 on 49 swings for a .347 mark on the night.
Arnold, who also had 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season, now has 984 kills in her three years in Greeley, leaving her a solid match shy of becoming just the 15th player in school history with 1,000 kills in a career.
"I thought the key to the match was our hitting percentage," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "As long as we could stay low-error and take big swings … that was really the key to the match. So, as our hitting percentages went up the scores went in our favor."
The Bears hit just .132 and .133 in the first two sets before finding a rhythm after intermission. Northern Colorado, which won for just the second time this season when losing the first set, hit .311 in the third set and a sizzling .406 in the clincher.
Benson said Northern Colorado won this match, though, on the defensive end, winning the digs war 80-55 after getting just 49 digs against Montana State in the teams' meeting last month in Greeley.
The Bobcats came into the match winners of three of four, but the defensive work of Northern Colorado senior Amanda Arterburn (20 digs), Williams, Arnold and freshman Tambre Haddock (career-high 12 digs) kept Montana State from gaining any real momentum after the first-set win.
"I thought Amanda Arterburn played a great match, defensively. She really kept us in it. We out-dug them significantly, which is key against Montana State, a good defensive team. And Bre Williams played all the way around for us, and I thought did a great job. She played like a senior tonight and really was low-error and played very composed, which is what we needed from her position tonight. So, those two seniors stepped up and did a great job."