Freshman outside hitter Missy Huddleston and Montana celebrate their 2nd set win over Idaho - MTN Sports photo


GREELEY, CO – The Montana volleyball team had one of its best offensive performances of the season, but Northern Colorado was even better, and that was the difference in the Bears’ 25-18, 25-21, 25-19 win over the Grizzlies Thursday night at Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley.

Montana (4-13, 1-6 BSC) hit .176, Northern Colorado (11-8, 5-2 BSC) finished at .355 to hand the Grizzlies their fifth straight loss.

“They are a good team, and they played a good match against us,” said UM coach Brian Doyon. “Neither team played great defense. There was a lot of offense, a lot of fast tempo.”

Story continues below

Senior libero Sadie Ahearn collected her 1,000th career dig, and sophomore outside hitter Lia Gaogao had her second big match in a row, finishing with 11 kills on .455 hitting. She had 10 kills on .364 hitting in Saturday’s home loss to Weber State.

“Lia had another great night. That’s back-to-back for her,” said Doyon. “I was actually pretty happy with the way the team played. Some of the girls really stepped up and did some good things.”

Northern Colorado, traditionally one of the top offensive teams in the Big Sky, hit better than .300 in all three sets, starting with a .417 performance in the opener, when the Bears used a 10-2 run midway through the set to pull away.

The tight second set had 16 ties, the final deadlock coming at 20-20. Three straight kills by UNC sent the Bears on their way to victory.

Northern Colorado hit .306 in the final set, its lowest percentage of the match, but Montana could only answer with .065.

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Urbach had 11 kills on .231 hitting and a team-high two blocks, and freshman middle blocker McKenzie Kramer hit .400.

Senior setter Raegan Lindsey totaled 18 assists, freshman setter Ashley Watkins had 14 as Montana had its second-highest hitting percentage in seven league matches.

“It was our game plan to spread the ball around and free up some of our hitters, and I thought both of our setters did a good job of that,” added Doyon, whose team had just three service errors, its fewest since Sept. 9.

“We did a nice job serving. We forced them to have to play offense against us. Unfortunately they had a pretty good offensive night.”

Timarie Nymeyer had 14 kills on .480 hitting for the Bears, who stayed within a match of North Dakota in the Big Sky North Division standings.

Montana will face the Fighting Hawks (14-8, 6-1 BSC) in Grand Forks at 11 a.m. (MT) on Saturday. UND had no trouble with Montana State on Thursday, winning 25-17, 25-11, 25-12.