hursday’s opening round of the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Tournament looked like it could see its first huge upset in the match between Northern Colorado and Washington as the Bears shocked the Huskies 27-25 in set one, but it wasn’t to be.
Washington showed why they are the No. 6 team in the country, rallying to win the final three sets of the match to pull off a 3-1 victory.
Leading the charge for Washington in fitting fashion was junior outside hitter Kindra Carlson, an Eaton native, with her match-high 20 kills to go along with a service ace. Carlson had the match’s first point and served during its final.
Carlson was excited to be back in Colorado playing in front of friends and family.
“The atmosphere was awesome, especially growing up in Colorado,” Carlson said. “I think we came out and did the things we were planning on doing and just attacked with our game plan.”
It was Carlson’s first time playing on the floor at Moby Arena.
For Northern Colorado, Thursday’s NCAA Tournament match was its first ever as a Division I program. Despite starting the set down 5-0, the Bears clawed their way back thanks play from their outside hitters, especially Kenzie Shreeve, who led her team with 19 kills.
Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin gave credit to UNC, but said in one tape the Huskies had to scout their opening round opponents, the Bears focused on attack from the inside.
“To be honest, the match we watched, they just ran a lot of inside sets,” said McLaughlin in the post-game press conference. “It took us a while to get going, but more than that, we missed some serves. We knew we’d miss more than normal because of the altitude.”
Northern Colorado had no regrets after the match, just excitement to play on such a big stage. At the same time, UNC’s Allison Raguse felt playing a team like Washington was intimidating.
“Yea, I think we all felt (intimidated) just waiting to get our first kill, just waiting to get our first good point that we earned rather than them just giving it to us,” the senior said. “Then finally, when we did it, we knew we could do it again.”
With the NCAA Tournament being single elimination, the Bears’ season has ended as they made the short drive back to Greeley Thursday. For Washington, they’ll play CSU tonight at 7 p.m.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.