Volleyball to Host Regional Rival Wyoming, Travel to Northern Arizona This Week
Oct. 16, 2006
University of Northern Colorado Bears (9-9, 6-3 Big Sky)
vs. University of Wyoming Cowgirls (8-10)
Match #19 * Wednesday, October 18 * 7:00 p.m. MT
Greeley, Colo. * Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,734)
University of Northern Colorado Bears
vs. Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks (7-12, 3-6 Big Sky)
Match #20 * Saturday, October 21 * 8:00 p.m. MT
Flagstaff, Ariz. * Rolle Activity Center (1,066)
The Series: Northern Colorado leads Wyoming 8-6. The series with NAU is tied 2-2.
The Coaches: Lyndsey Benson is 23-25 (.479) in her second season as a collegiate head coach. It is her fourth overall year with the Northern Colorado program.
Pat Stangle is 33-40 (.452) in his third season at Wyoming. Chris Campbell is 18-50 (.265) in his third year at NAU and 64-93 (.408) in his sixth season overall as a head coach.
Live Stats: Available through links at UNCBears.com.
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.
Season Tickets: Fans can take advantage of one of the best deal in college sports with the Northern Colorado Family Package. The package gets you two adult and up to four youth tickets to every 2006 volleyball match (nine in total) for the low price of $75. Tickets can be purchased by calling (970) 351-4TIX.
After a break from weekend competition, the University of Northern Colorado volleyball team returns to the court this week with a home non-conference match against regional rival Wyoming (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) and a road match at Big Sky foe Northern Arizona (Saturday, 8 p.m. MT).
THE BEAR FACTS
Northern Colorado played only once last week, defeating Idaho State in straight sets at home last Thursday. That ran the team's Big Sky record to 6-3 overall through nine matches.
That bodes well for the Bears in their quest to make the 2006 Big Sky Tournament. The top six teams in the league make the season-ending event and last year the last teams in the tournament had only five conference wins; the Bears already have one more than that total with seven more conference matches (including four at home) remaining.
This week the Bears play one of its two remaining non-conference foes, in border rival Wyoming. The matchup marks the third consecutive year the teams have played after not playing for over 20 years. Northern Colorado has won each of the last two meetings including a 3-0 sweep in Greeley in 2004, a match that was the 300th inside Butler-Hancock. The Bears also face off with Air Force (Oct. 24) in remaining non-conference action.
Following their matchup with the Cowgirls, the Bears return to Big Sky action by traveling to Northern Arizona. The Bears topped the Lumberjacks 3-1 in the Big Sky opener for both teams this season.
Wyoming: The Cowgirls lost five in a row, six of seven and 9 of 12 entering this week's match. Wyoming does not have a win since sweeping Air Force (who Northern Colorado will play next week) on Sept. 28. Wyoming is 1-6 on the road this season. Rachel Smith leads the team with 3.84 kills/game.
Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks snapped a four-match losing streak on Saturday, topping Idaho State 3-1 in Flagstaff. NAU finds itself in seventh place in the Big Sky with a 3-6 record entering this week. The team does not play again before hosting the Bears on Saturday. Kim Babcock's 4.18 kills/game leads the `Jacks.
The Last Time We Met: Northern Colorado topped Wyoming at the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic by scores of 30-28, 24-30, 30-26, 25-30 and 15-9 on Sept. 3rd of last season. Senior Amanda Wiggins finished with match-high 20 kills and also added a career-best 22 digs and a season-high five blocks. Sophomore Dani Veal added a career-high 15 kills, seven digs and five blocks and Lizzy Rhoads, one night after a career-high in kills, notched 13 kills and a career-high nine blocks. Sophomore Abby Mayne had 23 digs, two off her career-high, and junior Meredith Alder had four kills and a career-high 19 digs. Wyoming was led by 19 kills from Rachel Smith; Smith also had 14 digs and seven blocks.
Northern Colorado defeated Northern Arizona 3-1 (22-30, 30-25, 30-24, 30-21) in its inaugural Big Sky Conference matchup on Sept.14. Junior Dulcie Stone had career bests in both kills (16) and digs (16) to pace the Bears. Senior Meredith Alder also had a career-high in kills (16) while hitting a season-high .414 (16-4-29). Freshman Devon Crotteau added 13 kills. Junior Abby Mayne had a team-high 17 digs, pushing her career total to 1,010, making her the 18th member of the program's 1,000-Dig Club. She is only one dig out of 17th place in program history. Freshman Breanna VanDerMost added 12 digs. Northern Arizona was led by 16 kills from Kim Babcock; Brittany Stowers added 23 digs.
Series History: After a 21-year absence in the series, Northern Colorado and Wyoming are playing for the third consecutive year in the series. The Bears have won both of the previous meetings since the rivalry was renewed, in 3-0 in Greeley in 2004 and 3-2 in Laramie last season. The Bears lead the all-time series 4-3 in Greeley. Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado locked up for the first time since 1978 on Sept. 14 of this season, and for the first time in Greeley since 1976. The teams last played in Flagstaff on Oct. 21, 1978, a 3-0 Bears victory. NAU won each of the first two meetings in the series while the Bears have won both of the last two meetings.
NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES
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.
Strong Non-Conference Schedule: The reason for the Bears quick start to Big Sky Conference play can be attributed to the tough non-conference schedule the team played. As of Oct. 16, the nine non-conference teams Northern Colorado played in 2006 are a combined 111-71 (.610), with one of those teams ranked 13th nationally (Wisconsin), with another right outside the top 25 (unofficially 33rd) and a third formerly ranked. Three of the teams the Bears played outside of the Big Sky have five or fewer losses (San Francisco is 17-5, Winthrop is 23-2 and Wisconsin is 14-4). Only two teams (N.C. State at 2-16 and Chattanooga at 8-13) currently have below .500 records and if you take their records out of the equation, the Bears non-conference opponents are currently 91-42 (.684) overall.
Home Sweet Home: The Bears have been nearly unbeatable at home, posting a 267-51 (.840) record at home since Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (formerly Butler-Hancock Hall) opened in 1976 and winning 48 of their last 53 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 2-1 this season (not including a match in the Campus Rec Center). The Bears are 55-6 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.
Colorado Success: The Bears volleyball team has had tremendous success in matches played in the state of Colorado and against teams from the state of Colorado. The Bears had won 17 consecutive matches against teams from the state of Colorado before falling to Denver on Nov. 25, 2005 (the last loss prior to that had been to Colorado Christian 3-2 on Sept. 18, 2001). Overall, the Bears had won 47 of 48 matches they played in the state of Colorado (against all opponents - only dropping a 3-2 match to CS-San Bernardino on Sept. 6, 2003 at the Premier Challenge in Denver) before losing five straight in the state of Colorado to end the 2005 season (three at the D-I Independent Championship in Greeley and two at the DU Thanksgiving Classic). Northern Colorado has now won 50 of its last 57 matches played in the state of Colorado.
Mayne Digs Her Way Into 1,000 Dig Club: 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 has now netted 1,099 digs in here three-year career, which is the 14th highest total in program history; she is 60 digs out of 13th place. She has had double-digit digs in 15 of 17 matches this season, 39 of her last 45 matches and in 59 of 80 career matches. She currently ranks fifth in the Big Sky Conference in digs/game (4.32/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 266 block assists which ranks eighth all-time, only five out of seventh place. She has 302 career total blocks which ranks 10th all-time in program history; she joined that top 10 list following a seven-block performance against Idaho State (Oct. 12). Rhoads needs just one block to move to ninth on the Bears career list.
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 18 matches she is first in kills (2.76/game) and second in digs (3.13/game). Her best match of the year came against Northern Arizona (Sept. 14) when she set career-highs in kills (16), digs (16), aces (2) and blocks (3). She topped that kill plateau by registering 19 in a 3-2 win over Weber State (Oct. 7). She leads the team with nine double-doubles this season.
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 20-1 when leading a match 1-0. However, if the team falls behind early - watch out. The Bears are only 3-23 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). The match was the second fifth setter of the season; Montana topped the Bears 3-2 on Sept. 30. It was the team's first fifth set victory since topping South Dakota State 3-2 on Oct. 7, 2005. Northern Colorado is 3-3 in five-set matches of the past two years and 9-7 in five setters over the last three seasons.
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 Bears will have a tough road ahead if they want to match the best first-year conference record which was 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.