The University of Northern Colorado volleyball team began their Big Sky league schedule last week with matchups against Idaho State and Montana State.
UNC started their league play with a road game on Thursday against the Idaho State Bengals. The Bears started strong, winning the first two sets against the Bengals 25-14 and 25-20, but the Bengals rallied in the third set to beat UNC 26-24. The Bengals went on to clinch the next two sets 25-23 and 15-11 to outlast the Bears and take the win.
After their loss to the Bengals, UNC headed back to the Bear’s Den hoping to turn things around against Montana State.
The Bears took on the Bobcats Saturday night at the Bank of Colorado Arena. UNC fell behind early, losing both of the first two sets 20-25.
The Bears came out firing in the third set. Grad student Kailey Jo Ince and senior Cece Huhn led the way for the Bears with multiple kills each. Huhn said after the first two sets her team just needed to get back to the basics.
“We talked about, you know, just bringing our energy back and playing how we know how to play and just trying to make it simple,” Huhn said.
They did just that in set three, beating the bobcats 25-17. But it was a short-lived victory as Montana State took set four 25-20 to seal the win 3-1.
The Bears finished the game with a total of 45 kills, with Ince, Huhn and Rachel Hickman each finishing with 10 kills. Syd Cole led all players with 40 of the Bears’ 42 assists. On the defensive side the bears racked up 64 digs; Michaela Boone lead the team with 20. Isabella Bennet had 5 of the Bears 6 blocks.
Montana State topped the Bears in almost all of these categories with 49 kills, 47 assists, 59 digs and 14 blocks on the night.
This leaves the Bears 0-2 to start the league. Head Coach Lyndsey Oates is looking to get her team back on track this week in practice.
“I mean really just the same thing that we said, we just gotta start putting some of those pieces together,”Oates said. “Our left side’s gotta be able to score against double blocks better ’cause that’s what situations we’re gonna be in, especially in the end game, we need to be able to use them and count on them to score in those situations.”
The Bears are also hoping to get healthy. Two of the Bears’ starting outside hitters currently have injuries. Senior Mackenzie Harris was out against Montana State, Oates says. She hopes to have her back this week but is taking it day by day. Ince played the whole game against Montana State. She will likely play in the upcoming games, but she has a back injury and is trying to get back to 100% healthy.
The Bears are now sitting in seventh place in the Big Sky heading into week two of conference play. Their next game will be Thursday, September 29th at 6 p.m. against Portland State, who are currently ranked second in the Big Sky standings, with two league wins against Weber State and Eastern Washington.