Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 02:10
Halley Armstrong | The Mirror
UNC senior outside hitter (17) readies for Northern Arizona to return the serve by freshman setter Allie Hutcheson (2).
After winning the first set, the UNC volleyball team wasn’t able to gain momentum, falling 3-1 Thursday against Northern Arizona at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The University of Northern Colorado (13-5, 6-3 Big Sky) stayed close with NAU (15-3, 6-3) but was unable to pass the Lumberjacks after a 25-17 first-set win. NAU won the final three sets, 25-20, 25-21 and 25-17.
The Bears had 30 errors against NAU. Head coach Lyndsey Oates was well aware of those errors and how it hurt the momentum UNC had during the first set.
“We just quite couldn’t get our offense flowing tonight, and I thought we made some errors in situations where we weren’t going to score anyway, and those are the momentum killers,” Oates said. “We’re going to make some aggressive errors, but it’s those errors that are passive — or just not good opportunities anyway — that we’ve got to keep in play. We’ve got to be more low-error in those situations.”
Despite the loss, sophomore middle blocker Andrea Spaustat recorded a career-high seven blocks. The Bears were consistent with blocking — tallying 11 — but the Lumberjacks also were, with a total of nine.
“I just know that their defense was recognizing our hitters and where we normally hit and they were picking that up really nicely,” Spaustat said.
Before Thursday’s match, the Bears were tied with the Lumberjacks in Big Sky standings for third place.
“It’s pretty disappointing, and obviously we always want the win, and it’s on our home court with our home fans,” senior outside hitter Kelley Arnold said. “It’s just kind of a let-down a little bit, but there’s nothing more that can motive a team than a loss.”
Arnold had 16 kills Thursday and .244 attack percentage against Northern Arizona, while Spaustat had 12 kills and a .114 attack percentage.
Oates said she knows what the team needs to improve on for the next match.
“We got to get more reps, we got to be better passers, we got to be better setters, and we have to put the ball away when we have the chance,” Oates said.
The next match for the Bears will be 7 p.m. Saturday against Southern Utah at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.