Volleyball finishes nonconference slate with Seattle sweep
GREELEY -- Seattle came into its match with Northern Colorado Volleyball on Saturday night with just a 4-17 overall record this season and with losses in six of its previous eight matches.
The Redhawks did, however, claim a 3-0 victory against Big Sky-team Eastern Washington earlier in the season, so the Bears knew not to overlook the independent program from the Emerald City in the nonconference match at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
And the Bears didn't, earning a 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-16, 25-18) and improving to 2-0 all-time against Seattle.
"It was a little bit of a risk scheduling this match," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "Early in the preseason when we were scheduling, I debated back and forth if we should even play this match. This late in the conference season, it could go one of two ways: we could be distracted and get upset playing a team like Seattle, or it's a confidence boosting match, and we can move forward, which I thought that's what it turned out to be. Luckily, we gained what we needed from this match tonight."
Senior Amanda Arterburn had 13 digs, giving her double-digit digs for the 23rd consecutive match.
"I thought Brittany and Alyssa really played well tonight, and that's going to be big for us down the stretch," Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson said. "We're going to need a lot of kids to step up for us if we're going to have the success we want, so the play of those two was definitely the key tonight."
The match was just the second in the series between Northern Colorado and Seattle and the first since 2003, when the Bears earned a straight-sets victory against the Redhawks in the Hawaiian Style Classic in Hilo, Hawai'i.
The Redhawks (4-18), which are set to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) this coming July, came out strong, taking a 10-8 lead early in the first set, prompting a timeout from Benson, who likely reiterated to her team the importance of putting up a second consecutive strong performance.
Northern Colorado came into the match just two days after earning an impressive 3-1 win against Sacramento State and moving into a three-way tie for first in the Big Sky standings. That followed a frustrating loss at Montana.
Crenshaw heeded Benson's call, getting two subsequent kills and redirecting Seattle into an attack error, giving the Bears a lead, 11-10, they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the set. They later went ahead 16-12 and pushed that advantage to 19-14.
Wilson had four of the first seven points in Northern Colorado's dominating second-set win, and Spaustat and Haddock went into the break with 15 combined kills in the first two sets, hitting .407 between the two of them.
Those two finished with 18 kills on .444 hitting.
Northern Colorado then got four blocks in the third set—three came from Arnold, who finished with four for the match—and got to show off their depth, getting all but Donne' Elcock in the match. The Bears led 14-9 early in the set and never let up.
"I think most of the difference was on their side of the net," Benson said. "I thought [Seattle] got a little more passive after the first set. Their quick offense [in the first set] gave us a lot of trouble, but we served more aggressive after set one—if we had anything to do with it, it was that skill (serving), keeping them out of that quick offense—and I thought we defended a little bit better.
"I thought we adjusted well as the match went on, and I thought Amanda [Arterburn] stepped up and played like a senior. And we just kept talking to our blockers: 'Get up early, get up early. Even if you're wrong and in the wrong spot, get up early,' and that was a good change."