The Idaho volleyball team toppled Northern Colorado Thursday evening and the victory brought the Vandals one-step closer to claiming the top-spot in the Big Sky North.
Head coach Debbie Buchanan said this game was an exceptional performance by the Vandals, and it’s how the team should be playing at this point in the season.
“I can honestly say this is the best we’ve played,” Buchanan said.
The Vandals success began with the opening set. Idaho displayed its ability to rise above the net and record kill after kill.
The Vandals notched 15 kills, with six coming from junior outside hitter Sarah Sharp. Sharp’s offensive production was excessive in the Vandals victorious effort.
A quick 11-1 lead placed Idaho firmly in control of the set. Although they did not maintain the red-hot start, the Vandals never seemed to be in danger of surrendering their lead.
Northern Colorado played frantically, as many of the Vandals’ shots were booted away or fell between the Bears’ defenders.
The set closed with Northern Colorado penalty for mishandling the ball. Idaho won 25-16.
Coming off a big start, Idaho needed to maintain its initial success in the second set. The Vandals didn’t skip a beat.
This time, great defensive plays and key blocks helped Idaho clinch the set. But the offensive production should not be short-changed. The Vandals still recorded 16 kills, one more than the opening set.
Sharp continued to smash the ball at every opposing defender. The moment she was substituted back into the game, she recorded another kill.
Northern Colorado started to slowly creep back, but the Vandals were able to rally behind their offensive weapons and defensive digs to ultimately outlast the Bears. Idaho took the set 25-13.
The third set did not initially feature much Idaho success. The Vandals could not get off to a similar start. Idaho trailed 6-1 right away.
The comeback wasn’t immediate, though it was apparent. Idaho cut into the Bears’ lead, following a pair of timely kills from Sharp and fellow junior outside hitter, Kaela Straw.
With the score 17-17, the Vandals needed to play the best they had all night to claim the decisive set.
Idaho claimed the lead off an ace. They extended the lead by two, following another key serve. They claimed the final set 25-20.
Idaho is near the end of regular season play, but the Vandals host the Big Sky North leader North Dakota Saturday 7 p.m. in Memorial Gym. With a win, Idaho would be tied for 1st in their conference.
Zack Ozuna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OzunaZack21