Volleyball: Blocking the Bears

Vandal volleyball bounced back to an over .500 record Saturday with a sweep at Northern Colorado in Greeley for its seventh sweep of the season.

Idaho (8-7 overall, 3-1 Big Sky) by no means ran away with it, picking up 25-20, 26-24 and 25-21 set victories, respectively. Northern Colorado (9-8 overall, 2-2 Big Sky) struggled to keep up with Idaho’s size on defense. The Vandals would block nine shots, six from senior middle-blocker Torrin Crawford.

“We came out and our blocking picked up from Thursday,” Idaho head coach Debbie Buchanan said in a news release. “I thought we did a job blocking. We did not make a lot of errors. We are staying in our error ratio which is good. That is the biggest difference when we are on the road. I am proud of the girls for getting the sweep, staying in it and really battling through.”

Crawford’s first block of the match came in the first set, pushing Idaho out to a 10-8 lead. Senior setter Haylee Mathis and junior middle-blocker DeVonne Ryter contributed a block later in the set to propel Idaho on a 7-2 run.

Junior outside hitter Sarah Sharp’s fourth kill of the set put Idaho up 21-15 and ended up sealing it. The set featured five total blocks from the Vandal defensive front.

After a 3-0 Northern Colorado run early in the second set, Idaho went on a run of its own to go up 7-6, sparked by a kill from Ryter.

After the Bears took a 17-13 lead, Idaho would go on another run to knot it up at 22. Another kill from Ryter and an ace from senior defensive specialist Klaree Hobart, her 18th of the season, stifled the Bears’ winning chances. A challenged point by coach Buchanan would result in a 26-24 set victory.

After UNC jumped out on an early 3-0 run, Idaho would go on a 4-0 run, one of five runs of 3-0 or better in the set, to take the momentum. The Bears eventually would retake the lead at 15-13 behind kills from Kortney Lockey and Alex Kloehn, but Idaho recovered quickly, going on two more runs to close the match at 25-21.

Buchanan said the sweep was a big victory, especially given the talent Idaho was up against.

“It was huge for us to come in and get the sweep,” Buchanan said. “We told the team how much that means. Northern Colorado is picked to be second in the conference. We see ourselves emerging as a top team. Our goal is to keep pushing and getting better.”

Idaho hit .236 compared to .136 for Northern Colorado. The Vandals were led with 11 kills from junior outside hitter Kaela Straw and 10 from Sharp. Mathis dished out 30 assists for the second straight time and added four blocks.

Idaho will be away once again, this time for a matchup against the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah on Thursday in Cedar City.

Colton Clark can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @coltonclark95


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