Northern Colorado volleyball split its first day at the South Dakota Classic in Vermillion on Friday.
UNC (4-3) fell in its opening game but responded with a sweep in the second match of the afternoon.
The Bears started their Friday with an early morning matchup against West Virginia, narrowly falling in five sets (18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 13-15).
UNC got out to an 0-2 start against the Mountaineers but won two straight to force the final period. Ultimately, the Big 12 foe earned the win after WVU took a 13-10 lead in the fifth, thanks to a kill and back-to-back service aces. The Bears responded with two straight blocks, but West Virginia logged another kill to go up by two.
Senior hitter Rachel Hickman added her own kill, cutting the deficit to one, but UNC was unable to string together a second point to extend the set and gave up another point to end the match.
UNC hit better than WVU, finishing with a .243 attack percentage compared to .150. It finished with fewer errors, but it also finished with fewer aces and kills.
The Mountaineers, though they made mistakes, led with 10 service aces and 58 kills. The Bears had just four service aces and 49 kills.
Graduate hitter Kailey Jo Ince was once again a key factor in the match, logging a game-high 16 kills and adding 13 digs. In the fifth set, she recorded two kills and a block.
Senior Cece Huhn was also a big piece for the Bears. She was No. 2 in the kills (10) and blocks (6) statistics, following Ince in kills and freshman Isabel Bennett (8) in blocking.
The Bears got back to their winning ways in the second match of the day, defeating Cal-State Bakersfield (2-6) in a three-set sweep (25-19, 25-18, 25-21).
UNC’s hitting percentage was .400 across the whole match, including an eye-popping .571 in the second.
It got out to a good start in all three sets but allowed the Roadrunners to stay in it. During the third set, Bakersfield actually took a 16-13 lead. The Bears, however, responded with a 10-3 run. This gave them a four-point advantage.
There were imperfections in the match, but Northern Colorado kept them to a minimum and commanded the attack.
A kill from Bennett and service ace from Ince ended the match. Ince has recorded the match-winning play in all of the team’s wins this season.
She, once again, led all players with 14 kills and contributed a team-second six digs.
Senior hitter Makenzie Harris was No. 2 in kills (11) and No. 1 in digs (8).
The Bears not only hit well, logging 41 kills and nine errors, but the Roadrunners helped them out. Bakersfield finished with 33 kills and 18 errors for a .176 hitting percentage.
UNC added 10 aces and six blocks in the victory, as well.
Northern Colorado will end the South Dakota Classic at 5:30 p.m. Saturday when it faces the host team. The next home match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday against Tarleton State.